In hero fiction, losing an appendage is never the end of the world. In fact, it is an opportunity for more adventure. A missing hand, for example, and be replaced by some sort of robot prothetics, like a claw that can crush through solid metal or a pop-up sword. As a child, who among us didn’t pretend to retract their hands into their long sweater sleeve, then pretend that what came out was a massive Gatling gun, poised to mow down the enemy forces that exist only in a child’s brutal imagination? PVC tubing or bendy straws may have been involved.
Hence, you have a host of super tough dudes who have amazing prosthetics. You’ve got Cable, a beefy mountain of a man who has one metal arm. Surprisingly, he doesn’t tip over or develop back pains. You’ve got Robocop, who’s sort of a jumble of replacement limbs, including a leg that awesomely contains a gun holster. Awesome robo-appendages can also be found on the ladies, such as Kimiko Ross from the webcomic Dresden Codak.
However, all those assume that the characters were born with functional arms and/or legs. What about characters who never had such a luxury? Maybe flippers hands or … perhaps … not even having arms at all? Where is the superhero for the handicapped… or rather, the handi-capable?
What’s that? Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a … plane that seems to be missing its wings! It’s Redd!
That’s right, readers. Redd is a superhero with no arms and also no clothes. Because while she may not have been born with limbs, at least she was born with the things that did matter: her jugs and her legs. Amirite, fellas? You know what I’m talking about. She does have two red robot hands, though, which float around her basically in around the same position if she had arms. It’s sort of a phantom limb thing, like that Venture Bros. character of the same name.
Which brings to mind a question: if you were a scientist developing these cool new appendages for Redd, why wouldn’t you give her actual arms? Throughout the comic, I was sorta wondering if maybe there were complications because Redd wasn’t born with arms. Like, she would really know how to use limbs if she’d lived all hear life without them. Maybe the floating robo-hands were easier to use? But, wait, later we see her in disguise deploying an arrangement of six workable arms. So… it is possible for Redd to not look so dang weird, flying around in the sky with no arms nor care in the world.
Redd works for some sort of scientific organization that provides her upgrades, knick-knacks, and other sorts of technical doo-dads. They provide, for example, her skintight outfit, which can withstand cannon fire. Now I know what you’re saying. “Taking cannonballs to the gut? Is she joining the circus?” Alas, this is not to be. Under the direction of some creepy looking bosses, Redd fights sea monsters looking to put a bite into urban areas. It’s pretty much Evangelion, but without the minimalist Angel designs or the cleverness.
The fights are not very well drawn. Most are over after three pages, with the monsters barely putting up a fight. In fact, I’m pretty sure they never put any offense in. One sea monster does smack Redd around, but for the life of me it looks like that she’s running into it. I get the impression that if Redd had done nothing and left well enough alone, these monsters would probably just hung out on the beach, catching some rays.
What Redd wants to be, though, is a superhero. But wait. She’s already fighting giant monsters, and she can fly and has super strength? Isn’t she a superhero already? Well, apparently this webcomic tries to redefine what a superhero is. Out are urban vigilantes like Spider-Man and Batman. These heroes are “contractual city protection.” Redd’s organization has a very poor view of them, seeing them as narcissistic egomaniacs. Redd gets treated to a rant worthy of Image Comics from the early 90’s:
You see why the country wants you to deal with him. The proper superheroes keep locking him up, and he keeps getting out again. They allow these tragedies to keep happening to sate their self-imposed moralities. There’s nothing moral about allowing this to keep happening, Redd. People want to bring back corporal punishment just for this guy. But supervillains get supervillain prisons, outside the government’s authority. That’s why we need to get him first. So these supers can’t keep playing their game with innocent people.
It probably would have helped the organization’s case if we’d seen a supervillain doing horrible things. All we get is a scene where he shows up for the fight (which, like the sea monster fight, is more about Redd bumping into things). Like, why do people want to bring corporal punishment back for this one guy? Did he level a city? Is he like the Joker, kidnapping and torturing people? I’m not saying that these need to be drawn. Before I’m convinced, I think there needs to be more detail and evidence than “this guy is bad and the superheroes are on an ego trip”.
It doesn’t matter to Redd, though! While she initially hesitates over the idea of killing another human being, that little pep talk was enough for her to Otherwise, Redd looks like a total and utter idiot when she goes all sickhouse on the bad guy. It’s less a fight and more of an execution; like the sea monsters, her adversary never gets a blow in. She kills the poorly defined menace while a shocked superhero looks on.
Our hero, ladies and gentlemen!
And, just to make Redd look even more like an easily led moron, there’s a very good chance that Redd’s organization isn’t quite entirely on the level. Her superiors look kinda sketchy, and the organization is pretty obviously patterned around SEELE from Evangelion. So, probably not the good guys.
The superheroes and supervillains aren’t necessarily the good guys, either. (Though, from what we see of the superheroes, they look like a group of nice kids and not the ego-obsessed showboaters that Redd’s organization portrays them as.) Now, we’re meant to buy that what Redd did — executing a supervillain — was at least partially justified. The ultimate motivation of her organization my be murky, but the villain was supposed to be a legit bad dude that the public wanted dead. The united heroes and villains don’t seem to think of it that way, though, and they send someone to confront her. Someone who… kinda looks like the grim reaper. I’m guessing we’re not meant to root for the scary skull-faced guys who threaten limbless girls.
A disturbing amount of panels and dialogue is devoted to what Redd is wearing. While the fights are glossed over and uninteresting, the various outfits of Redd are discussed energetically and enthusiastically. It starts off innocently enough with the spandex power armor. That makes sense, right? What separates that scene in Iron Man, where Tony Stark works in his garage to develop the perfect armor? Nothing. But then it gets a little ridiculous. Like when she’s lounging around in lingerie for a completely unnecessary scene. Or why she wears a sundress to battle. Our how one skimpy bikini makes her look like a character in a Korean MMORPG. Heck, even baggy sweaters cannot pass without comment. Redd is pretty much a limbless paper dress up doll.
Do you think that’s what inspired Redd? Like, the person who created it was cutting out one of those paper dolls from a dollar store coloring book. (Or pound store book; I suspect that the creator is from the UK somewhere.) Suddenly, the scissors slip, and they accidentally cut off one of the arms! Rather than be broken-hearted though, he thinks wistfully, “What are your adventures, limbless girl? Would you be fighting sea monsters? Would you be a superhero?” And then he glances at the cute sundress outfit next to her, and the gears in his brain start spinning like crazy.
Who am I kidding. We all know why this webcomic was made. One the one had, I guess it’s a little refreshing that there’s a guy out there who’s hoping to meet the armless girl of his dreams. On the other hand… well, look at the sample images I posted in this review. It’s … kinda fetishistic.
Rating: 2 Stars (out of 5)