Followers of my Webcomics Wednesday posts might notice a recurring theme: I cover a lot of webcomics about young girls who suddenly find themselves gifted with magic powers. Though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like that trope, there’s another reason I cover it so often: The world of webcomics is simply flooded with magical girl stories (which have their roots in anime and manga; perhaps Sailor Moon rings a bell?). It would be easy to lump them all together and move on, but don’t! There’s rich variety to be found in the category, in everything from the art to the tone to the characterizations. This week’s featured webcomic, StarHammer, also features a magical girl, but adds a heap of visual humor to the typical markers of the genre.
Evey, the magical girl, lives in a world where some people—“advanced humans”— take on a superhero-like mantle. Thus far, Evey hasn’t shown a shred of talent—let alone interest—in superheroing, so she’s extra surprised to wake up one morning to find a mystical, celestial hammer called Orion’s Mallet trailing her like a puppy. Everyone else seems thrilled, from her family to her best friend Izzy, but for Evey, her new, glittering shadow is more of an embarrassment.
Soon, though, she finds the powers she gains from the hammer intoxicating, if a little unpredictable. When one of her classmates, who seems destined to grow into a supervillain, has a mortar-crumbling tantrum in the hallway, Evey dismantles the situation by invoking the power of the constellation Ursa Major, and while it’s a little more cute than terrifying, it gets the job done.
Just as Evey is warming up to her newfound skills, thanks in no small part to Izzy’s enthusiastic encouragement, she gets some unexpected visitors at home—former superhero StarHammer, who previously wielded Orion’s Mallet, and agents from the government body regulating advanced-human activities. As she gets further drawn in to the official world of superheroes, she learns intriguing secrets about the Mallet’s previous owner and wrestles with advanced-human bureaucracy, the constraints of which get her into some as-yet-unnamed trouble.
A big part of StarHammer’s charm comes from the visual comedy in the artwork, communicated through facial expressions, gestures, and well-timed slapstick. The artist, Harry Bogosian, deploys cartoonish action with cinematic deftness, which nicely matches the punchy, lively narrative style. And not for nothing, his widely varied character figures, diverse in skin tone and body shape, are a real treat. After a brief hiatus in January, the team behind StarHammer is back to regular updates, and they’re just starting to get into the explanation for the chapter-opening scenes of Evey’s disciplinary proceedings. Add to that some sly hints of secrets Izzy’s been keeping about her past, and those are some compelling reasons to keep tuning in for new pages.