Street Angel: Superhero for a Day

Writers: Jim Rugg & Brian Maruca
Artist: Jim Rugg
Publisher: Image Comics

A review by Samantha Pearson

Street Angel: Superhero for a Day appears to be a book about a girl who gains superpowers and explores them for a day. In actuality, it’s a book about homeless youth, street harassment, and how to tell if your friends are really your friends. I went into this comic expecting one story and ended up with something totally different.

When Jesse “Street Angel” Sanchez takes her friends on a search for food, she finds a dismembered body and an alien artifact (a hover ring) instead. Desperately hungry, Jesse plans to pawn it for food, but one of her friends decides to try it on. The hover ring instantly transforms Emma into a superhero, costume and all, and Jesse spends the day hungry… and fighting off inappropriate comments from men that are aimed at the spandex-clad Emma.

The thing that stands out most about Street Angel: Superhero for a Day is the art. Jim Rugg’s style makes the landscape pages work beautifully, with each panel leading effortlessly into the next. Pages that should feel cluttered, don’t, and the bright colors and sharp lines draw your eye to the action without fail. Rugg’s art also emphasizes Jesse’s homelessness, with her appearance reflecting that of a girl who literally sleeps on the street every night. Likewise, the way her friends dress is indicative of their characters, and Emma’s sudden transformation into a superhero is underscored by intensely bright colors and a stark white suit that contrasts with the gritty, dirty city around her.

To be honest, though I love the dialogue, this story feels a little flat to me. Like I said, I expected one thing going into this comic and got another thing entirely, which wasn’t bad, but I found myself wanting more. I loved seeing Jesse fight off creepy older men who were objectifying her friend. I liked that her heroism was based in everyday acts, the kinds of things women wish they could do but often can’t. In many ways, Jesse reminds me of the women in Jenn Woodall’s GIRLS. And I wanted to explore that more.

Beyond that, I wanted Jesse to actually eat something. She abandons her friends to their discussion of superhero names and then we see her scrounging in a trash can for any morsel. Then we skip ahead to the next day and discover the real owner of the hover ring, but also learn that Jesse’s “friends” had an entire feast after she left them. It felt like a pretty horrible way to end the story, after Jesse did so much to defend Emma, and it felt incredibly abrupt.

The characters weren’t super fleshed out, nor was the alien involvement. I needed a lot more from Street Angel: Hero for a Day than what it ultimately offered. I was really excited to read this comic, but it fell pretty flat in its execution.

I want to say skip it, but you should buy it just for the art and Jesse’s incredible attitude. With the way the headlines have been lately, it was refreshing to read about a young girl standing up for herself and her friend against a bunch of creepers. 

Samantha Puc
Samantha Puc is a freelance writer, editor, and social media manager residing in southern New England with her partner and three cats. She likes Shakespeare, space babes, bikes, and dismantling the patriarchy. She also loves vegan food. Her work has appeared on Rogues Portal, SheKnows, Femsplain, The Tempest, and elsewhere. For more, follow her on Twitter!

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