cover image Queen of Kenosha

Queen of Kenosha

Howard Shapiro and Erica Chan. Animal Media Group, $14.95 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-0-9974315-2-0

This lackluster first offering in the “Thin Thinline Trilogy” introduces Nina Overstreet, an aspiring folk singer in 1963 New York City. Her musical career is abruptly pushed aside when agent Nick Ladd recruits her into a mysterious government project—the “6700 Company”—to shut down neo-Nazis plotting the rise of the Fourth Reich. Shapiro (Forever Friends) plays this implausible merging of coming-of-age and spy genres perfectly straight. Nina trains, goes on missions, and becomes romantically close to Nick as they race to stop an attack on Manhattan’s Lincoln Tunnel. Much of the background is related through talking head dialogue and pages crammed with info dumps. Sixties political and social themes of American patriotism and challenging authority are coopted without addressing specific historical issues like racial unrest, political turmoil, or youth culture. Newcomer Chan’s artwork is competent but monotonous; her characters almost all have similar body language (she uses the same V-shaped chin on most characters). Background details are often omitted in panels, losing the sense of place or character blocking. The story concludes with a hint at further Nazi plotting and a second volume. But while the ongoing series could improve, there’s not enough development to drive future investment in these characters. [em](Oct.) [/em]