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Street Angel Vol. 1: The Princess of Poverty
Review by Christopher J. Shelton

Street Angel Review Cover Image
Street Angel Vol. 1: The Princess of Poverty

Jim Rugg & Brian Maruca
Jim Rugg
Jim Rugg

Slave Labor Graphics
Softcover Collection
Publish Date
June 15, 2005
Cover Price
I didn’t expect the 12 year-old Jesse Sanchez, weighing 87 pounds and coming in at just over five feet tall to be able to kick ANY butt, which is part of why Jim Rugg’s and Brian Maruca’s Street Angel character is so appealing. You get the unexpected with Jesse the “world’s greatest homeless skateboarder.” She doesn’t have super powers, but Jesse is a “dangerous martial artist,” who was “orphaned by the world” and “raised by the streets.” While reading Street Angel Vol. 1: Princess of Poverty, which collects issues 1 – 5 of the series, Jesse’s character reminded me of Clint Eastwood’s “man with no name” character from the spaghetti westerns. She is tough, speaks her mind, and won’t let any hombre take her down.

Along with providing the unexpected, Rugg and Maruca did a good job of providing simple short descriptions of Jesse and her role as defender in Wilkesborough, Angel City’s worst ghetto. Just having the short descriptions, Rugg and Maruca avoided loading their character down with a lot of baggage. Working through Jesse’s back story would’ve slowed things down and ruined the nice pace that Rugg and Maruca had built. Besides, I didn’t need to know anything deep about Jesse. I just wanted to see her defeat the bad guys.

Like Jesse, the bad guys in Street Angel aren’t stereotypical either. They aren’t dripping with evil like so many other bad guys. I like how Rugg and Maruca depicted the villains as somewhat ominous, but with a layer of parody surrounding them. The buffoonish bad guy has been done before but Rugg and Maruca’s formula in Street Angel doesn’t come across as stale. In the first chapter, the evil Dr. Pangea, who has kidnapped the mayor’s daughter to help bring about his plan to “repangeaify” (reconnect) the continents gets ticked that one of his ninja henchmen has lost his name badge. “Those badges cost $4.50 to replace,” he tells the ninja. The evil doctor regains his twisted nature when he offs another of the ninjas for questioning why the doctor hadn’t fired his laser.

Street Angel Review Interior Image

Another bunch of baddies that get the light comedy spin are the ninjas. Despite their looking evil in their black outfits, the ninjas, who carry swords and throwing stars, are shown at one point playing a game of basketball (one of my favorite moments). The Street Angel battles wacky Satanists and a demon named Krigmore, and Rugg and Maruca round out their fine supply of idiot bad guys when they give Jesse some racists to battle.

Another thing that stood out for me and that Rugg and Maruca did well was delivering a cool supporting cast for the Street Angel. Her skateboard never had any speaking lines, but without it, Jesse would’ve been like the Lone Ranger without his horse Silver. The board even took a couple of ninja throwing stars for the cause. Another of the supporting cast was the Bald Eagle. Jesse’s part-time crime fighting partner had only one arm and no legs, but he was tough as nails. These and many more were good compliments to Jesse.

The volume is made up of five stand alone issues with a compilation of four (equally fun) short stories following the fifth issue. The slowest of the five is issue four, but that’s not to say it’s lacking in quality. In fact, none of Street Angel Vol. 1: The Princess of Poverty is lacking in quality

Street Angel Review Interior Image 2Jim Rugg’s black and white art works well in Street Angel. Some comics (like Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead) just call out for using black and white for the art. Doing Street Angel in color would have taken away some of the tough and gritty aspects of the ghetto setting.

Rugg has the right mix of detail and shading in his scenes. The main character, Jesse, is drawn with little detail in some scenes and then gets more detail in other shots. The detail on some of the ghetto buildings is really well done. Rugg draws a good variety of shots, which helps keep the story flowing at a good clip.


Bonus Features
You get a plethora of extras in this volume. Along with an all-new 12-page adventure, you get a cover gallery of the first five issues. Each of the five issues had two different covers done. My two favorites were the covers where Jesse is flipping the bird and where she is looking like a Sailor Moon character. The cover gallery is complimented by a sketchbook section with pictures of Jesse, the ninjas, CosMick, Afrodisiac, and the homeless disabled veteran from the fourth issue. Rounding out the bonus features of the volume is a worthy pinup section with contributions from 22 different artists.
Final Words

Street Angel Volume One: The Princess of Poverty is atypical from your normal comic book fare, and that’s a good thing. All comic book readers, especially those that have gotten fed up with the titles they’ve been reading, should check this one out. Change is scary for people and that can be translated to comic book reading. People get comfortable with certain titles and certain characters. Before I worked at an alternative radio station, I used to think that the only good music out there was music from top 40 artists. I was wrong back then and readers who dismiss Street Angel Volume One: The Princess of Poverty as not worthy of their money would certainly be wrong too.

Highly Recommended

Once nicknamed Richie Rich, Christopher Shelton (email) nowadays wishes he had gotten Richie’s money, instead of the nickname, so he could support his comic buying habit. Born under the Year of the Monkey, his favorite B—list comic book characters include Iron Fist, Paladin, and the Human Fly. Christopher has worked as a movie extra in Spider-Man and Renaissance Man. He’s been a radio disc jockey who has spun tunes in the alternative format among others. He’s also tackled the production side of radio, working in sports talk and in news talk. He’s currently climbing the copyediting/writing ladder in San Diego.
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