E-Ratic has been kidnapped and only his friend and high school crush, Kirsten, knows. But she ain’t telling as her day goes from bad to worse. Kaare Andrews takes well worn ten superhero sub-genre and brings a whole new set of beats to play. The Amazing Spider-Man remixed with a fast paced b.p.m. to match.
E-Ratic #3 by Kaare Andrews may well throw you off your balance as our eponymous hero is nowhere in sight at the start of this issue. But then, he was carted off my a mysterious being at the end of the last issue. And only Kirsten – his crush and neighbour – knows it. But, that’s not the only worry she has to deal with. Not when the school she and Ollie attend have just issued mandatory uniforms that everyone is slavishly following. Although, if you have been following along, it won’t take you ling to work out why so many of the students and teaching staff are toeing the line. Everyone except Kirsten. Hmmm, if I didn’t know better, I’d almost think Andrews is having a subtle sarcastic swipe at the educational institutions of America as she takes on her teacher’s attempt to teach fairness and equality. Uniformity does not equate to either fairness or equality. And Kirsten’s counterarguments are pretty persuasive. Especially as the big bad world outside of education is never fair and equal. Life is full of winners and a lot of losers. It all smacks a little bit of friendly fascism ruling the hallways of school by this point.
But, what will not be tolerated in this school are rebels and individual freethinkers. So, not too much change for your average teenage students’ high school experience then, right? And it’s all down to new Principal, Mr Marquez, and his mind-altering new powers. A tin-pot dictator with the moustache to match. And gloriously, cartoonishly exaggerated by Andrews who also subtly incorporates photographic references in his art, but never in a jarring way. After all, I’m only mentioning this now, and after two issues.
But fear not dear readers, as we do touch base with Ollie Lief too and find out the identity of his masked kidnapper. But, by this point, I’ve been sucked into Kirsten’s story and her own dramas. Andrews fits in a great deal more character background into just this one issue than many writers fail to achieve over a dozen or so issues. And he still has time to throw in the requisite action sequences required of this genre. And very contrasting colour schemes too, that do more than simply delineate one scene from another. The bright reds once again scream danger from the printed page, and danger there is. In spades. Ollie finds himself facing down a couple of armed robbers, but with a rather different conclusion than you may expect. Another great twist on the pre-conceived expectations of this type of story. After all, why do a teen superhero if you aren’t going to try something new with an old formula? And, Andrews is certainly bringing something fresh to this all-new shared universe that’s been full of fresh ideas since The Resistance dropped last year. You really should be getting in on this one, if you aren’t already.
So, our “dumb cheerleader” is shown to be far from the usually stereotype, and the usually black and white world of good versus evil also gets spun on its axis too. All this and another edge-of-your-seat cliffhanger too. Ollie may have a smaller role in this issue, but he still manages the time to get into a whole lot of trouble!
E-Ratic #3 is out now from AWA Upshot.
And for more in this series, why not read my interview with the man himself, Kaare Andrews here?