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December 6, 2017 / GO Brooklyn / Books / Boro of Nerds

‘War’ of the sexes: New comic stars gender swap superhero(ine)

This means war: The new comic series “War Cry,” from Brooklyn artist Dean Haspiel, stars a superheroine with the power of an entire army.
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Brooklyn has a new hero!

A busty new superheroine patrols the skies of New Brooklyn in a gender-bending new online comic launching today at Webtoons.com. “War Cry,” named after its lead character, a black gay man who transforms into a warrior goddess, is a convoluted story that balances questions of identity with smash ’em up action, said its creator.

“It’s a very complicated comic that I had to figure out a way to write,” said Carroll Gardens cartoonist Dean Haspiel.

“War Cry” is a sequel to his series “The Red Hook,” about a superpowered thief forced to do good, in a universe in which Brooklyn becomes sentient and literally separates from the United States. When creating the new main character, Haspiel said he was inspired by two classic superheroes: Captain Marvel, a kid who transforms into an adult hero when he shouts the word “Shazam!” and the superhuman cyborg called OMAC, for One Man Army Corps.

“I always liked the idea of those two characters, and I wanted to do a mash-up,” he said. “And I wanted to do a comic where a young kid shouts a word — and the hero he becomes is this female goddess called War Cry. So instead of One Man Army Corps, it’s One Woman Army Corps.”

The adventure story comes with a dose of melodramatic romance, because the ferocious female he becomes is also the reincarnation of the Red Hook’s dead girlfriend.

“We have to navigate all this through the eyes of the Red Hook — and he just wants his girlfriend back,” said Haspiel. “It becomes this kind of star-crossed Romeo vs. Juliet — or maybe Romeo versus Juliet and Julio!”

The series appears on the website Linetoons, which is also available as an app for smartphones. The images are optimized for phone viewing, with panels appearing in a single long scroll, though Haspiel plans to collect the series in a more traditional book format when it is completed.

The series launches with a bang on Dec. 6, dropping its first three chapters all at once. New chapters will follow each Wednesday for the next 23 weeks.

Haspiel, who has also drawn “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “Batman Adventures,” had fun with his new series, throwing in references to some of his favorite heroes with a line-up of doomed superheroes.

“Knowing that I was going to dispose of these characters pretty quickly, I wanted to hip-check some icons, you know — there’s a Batman, there’s a Superman,” he said.

The story showcases locations around the borough, including the Brooklyn Bridge, the Red Hook grain silo, and an analogue of popular dim sum restaurant Pacificana in Sunset Park. Putting his super-characters in the real world — even a fantasy version of the world — helps the high-flying action to feel more grounded, said Haspiel.

“You can make up characters, but if you can put them in real places, it feels more real,” he said.

“War Cry” at Line Webtoons, www.webtoons.com. Free.

Reach arts editor Bill Roundy at broundy@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4507.
Posted 6:51 pm, December 6, 2017
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