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Posted: Wednesday, August 2, 2006
By: Ray Tate

Writer: George T. Singley
Artists: Ethen Beavers, Jaimie Jones & Mark Winters (colors)

Publisher: Markosia

Ostensibly, Mutation is about the big slab of blonde beef on the cover fighting crime in Silver City and his relationship with his girlfriend Casey, but a twist at the end of the book will actually color Mutation as a surprisingly feminist approach to super-heroes and comic books.

We have all heard the misplaced notion that Blankets and manga are the only types of comic books woman will read, and they shy away from anything with a cape and a cowl. This of course is hogwash. Women read and get pissed off at super-hero books just as much as men do. Given the unfriendly climate toward women in super-hero comics, perhaps understandably more so. Women however if given a super-hero comic book that's well written, of their tastes and not patronizing toward women will likely read it.

The female co-star of Mutation Casey is portrayed as sizzling hot, young and supportive of her super-hero boyfriend Trent. She exhibits intelligence and poise, and by the end of the book, she will become a super-hero in her own right. She doesn't become a hero for selfish or nonsensical reasons. She becomes a hero to save Mutation, and the surprise ending shows Casey to be far more imaginative than most women are portrayed in comic books.

The title character Mutation is a happy-go-lucky California surfer type come hero, and yes, he says, "dude" a lot. Of course, everybody says dude a lot since Dude, Where's My Car drove onto the pop culture landscape. His powers are based on shapeshifting which he amusingly mainly uses to beef himself up to hit plug-uglies harder. At one point he turns his fist into bricks, when a fleshy fist proves to be inadequate a deterrent. He can also fly and though not invulnerable, tends to be really tough. However, his loyalty to Casey and his desire to truly help people are his most impressive abilities.

The book is intended for all ages, and I would concur with that. Though Mutation and Casey have a sex life, it's portrayed tastefully. Though a number of scantily clad women appear in the panels, there is no nudity in the books. Parents who might be alarmed at the violence should know that Singley and Beavers make this violence wonderfully larger than life Jack Kirby type violence.

Beavers is indeed a student of Kirby and the Bruce Timm stable of artists. Beavers captures Kirby's frenetic motion and truly dynamic anatomy so that Mutation seems to hit bad guys, all imaginatively designed, save for the opening Kalibak-clone, off the pages. The women have that highly stylized hourglass figure so prevalent in Batman: the Animated Series, Superman and to a lesser extent Justice League. The blustery nature of the fights and the painfully hot female background players are in fact very sly clues to the surprise conclusion.

The colors by Jones and Winters enhance the beauty of the artwork. An expressive sunlight scene filled with warm oranges and yellows and a dramatic night scene with cold blues and purples are particularly memorable, and nary does a costume's hues clash.

Mutation was offered first as a comic book, and had I subscribed to that comic book, I would have been highly frustrated, for despite the seemingly stand alone chapters, Mutation works best as a graphic novel, since the reader discovers that each chapter comprises just one story. Mutation, as a whole, is a very fun romp with likeable characters and superior artwork.

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