By T’Sao Wei
Okay, Windrush is a quality little comic, interesting genre twist, the quirky, edgy end of the superhero spectrum, rough, raw, wearing its flaws right out front. But beside those obvious flaws sits something intriguing, something good.
It’s strangely formatted; hand bound A4, cotton binding up the edge, no spine. And that just made it feel like something far more amateurish than the insides deliver. Because once inside the comic itself, you can forget about the problems with formatting, and simply enjoy something that looks anything but amateurish.
We start on page 1 (above) with a daughter eulogising her dead mother, who’s described as “Windrush“, “The Lambeth Phantom“, a protector of Brixton, a hero, an example to the community. But the daughter isn’t speaking to a packed community church, she’s speaking to a small assemblage of freaks and weird folks you can see above; Uncle Henry, in dress suit and combat helmet, M-16 in hand, chief Inspector Nikita, Solo, Steam Punk, The Mechanic, Feiyi Huang – the dead woman’s martial arts training partner who talks of her skills in martial arts being extraordinary. It all looks very Grant Morrison-esque Doom Patrol.
So, mom obviously wasn’t your normal sort of community stalwart, turns out she was something of a moderator in gang wars, enemies on all sides, and the protector’s mantle has fallen to her daughter, along with the quest to uncover just who did the killing, and more importantly just who put the price on her mother’s head.
And Lauren herself is something out of the ordinary, as she puts on the mask and costume and performs some moves of her own, something superhuman almost as she floats above the rooftops. We’re in the realms of community superheroes, the legacy they leave behind when they die, sidekicks left wondering what they should do, friends and teammates left without a leader, without a reason to keep going.
Yet Windrush just doesn’t feel much like a traditional superhero tale, much to its credit. It uses some of the language, some of the imagery wouldn’t be out of place in your more unusual cape and tight comics perhaps, but this is something more. This is gangland conflict given masks and superpowers, superheroes and supervillains fighting over gangland territories.
And it sort of, just about works. Or at least it does in the main story, once I realised the last couple of pages were out of order at least. It builds up a good enough picture of a life, whilst showing us the daughter’s pursuit of her mother’s killers. There’s issues with pacing at times, and the back up drawn by Yusuf Supdarowa is a misstep. It adds little, although Wei assures us that it’s imperative to future storylines, detailing the adventures of Lauren’s weird tentacle wielding shadowy friend Ned Zeppellin. In fact this first issue could have done without the second strip altogether, it just breaks up what I read, creates unnecessary confusion, and just means I ended the comic wondering what went wrong.
Far better would have been to tighten up the main, ditch the back-up, smarten the presentation.
In truth, I’m conflicted with this one. The story is a simple twist in the genre, but it’s played off well enough to make it interesting.
Wei’s art goes all round the bases; from interesting and quirky, right through to just a little too rough and occasionally into just not good enough.
Where it does really fly (if you’ll forgive the pun) is where Wei gets kinetic. There’s such speed, such flow, such excitement when we do see movement, and Wei never overplays that aspect, leaving me impressed, wanting more, yet appreciating the stylish restraint.
Windrush is good, make no mistake. But it’s unforgivingly raw at the same time.
Sometimes that’s raw yet so promising and sometimes it’s simply not ready yet raw. T’sao Wei’s Windrush certainly has potential, but it’s a potential that struggles to reveal itself properly by the end.