November 29, 2008

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Love Fights Volume 1

Written by Andi Watson
Illustrated by Andi Watson
Oni Press

He's a penciller for the comic book of an out-of-fashion hero. She's a grunt worker at a gossip mag that can get some good dirt on one of the heroes. They meet on a subway train and learn to love each other--until they discover that her paydirt is his paydirt, too, only in reverse. What do two young lovers do when a superhero comes between them?

That's where we end the first half of this series, another great book by Watson that puts the superheroes on the side and makes the humans they protect the focus. This story could be told about a celebrity publicist and a National Enquirer hack, and that's why it works. The superheroes aren't needed to prop up the story, they just add to the fun. After all, what jealous boyfriend wannabe wouldn't be freaked at the idea of trying to compete with the very characters he draws on paper? It's like getting to be inside the Marvel Bullpen, but more modernized and cynical.

It's a twist on the usual love triangle, made worse by a superpowered cat (my favorite line relates to when we learn the cat can talk) with jealousy issues of his own. Can our two star-crossed lovers get over their own hangups, or will our penciller be stuck drawing his own fantasies?

Watson manages to get in great comments about working in comics, give us familiar heroes without being obvious clones, and tells a relationship story that feels real, sounds real, and what's strangest--make me want to read it, since I am not a fan of romantic stories at all. If Watson's stories are any indicator of the quality of modern-day Romance comics, then I definitely want to read more.