50 Girls 50 #1

Written by Doug Murray and Frank Cho
Art by Axel Medellin
28 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

There’s something rather odd in my head about Doug Murray (best known for writing Marvel’s war comic The ‘Nam) and Frank Cho (best known for his buxom blondes and comic strip Liberty Meadows) writing a comic together. The two come from such different pasts, in terms of comics, that 50 Girls 50 #1 became a "must read." Not because I was necessarily dying to read it, but rather because I wanted to see just what a synthesis of the two together would end up looking like.

The basic idea behind 50 Girls 50—a ship manned by 50 women looking for new resources, because anyone with a Y chromosome dies going through the wormhole—is a small stretch on how to come up with an entirely female cast, but considering how many all-male casts in space operas we’ve had over the years, it’s easy to nod and move on. Since the ship is about to return to Earth, that’s where the drama kicks in as a jump back through the wormhole takes them to another planet, and before long we’ve got two of the women trapped on a planet of massive bugs. It’s not a bad idea, and with two big exceptions it’s a fun little story about how to come up with an inventive way to escape a planet that actively destroys all non-organic material brought to its surface. While Cho and Murray clearly have a bigger story to tell about Oksana, her guarded and "mysterious" comments come off a little forced, and her sudden bursting into tears doesn’t help us warm to the character. Even with the hints in the final panel about why she’s acting so strange, it doesn’t make me sympathize with her or want to see her suddenly succeed, but rather see her toughen up a bit. Vulnerable is one thing, but Murray and Cho make their lead character act weak far too often.

The other big exception has to do with what appears to be little more than an excuse for the leads to go from space suits to g-strings in a matter of pages. I’d figured with Cho only co-author rather than artist, the book would focus less on female curves and flesh, but 50 Girls 50 quickly proved me wrong. I’m sure I’m not the only person who started rolling his eyes when the girls ended up with 90 to 95% of their clothing gone in the blink of an eye, and while the challenge to actually escape the planet was well done, there’s still no reason for it to have gone after the clothing so much other than sheer titillation. (Otherwise we could have just as easily had them wearing cotton under the space suits, for example.) And considering at one point the solvent is only supposed to dissolve plastic, the wiping out of the clothing comes across even more crass. It’s hard to take the book too seriously as a result.

Alex Medellin won a contest to be chosen as the artist for 50 Girls 50, and his art is all right in places, but could use some serious work. The biggest issue I had with his art was that aside from different hair styles, all of his women look the same. Look at the panel when the ship first jumps out of the wormhole and they aren’t in orbit over Earth. We’ve got three different women with a look of surprise on their faces, and aside from different hair (blonde, black, red) they’re identical. Same gasp, same nose, same eyes, same everything. Then, add in that women the two women on the planet are down to scraps of clothing, they often look strangely compressed and gangly. It’s an odd look, like someone tried to mix a supermodel with a competitive bodybuilder and the result doesn’t fit in either camp. Between the sameness of his characters and the far-too-often butt shots, Medellin’s art has some refining to do. It’s not bad for just a pin-up (some of the time) but as soon as it starts to tell a narrative and brings in more than a single character, the weaknesses shine through.

50 Girls 50 #1 is a disappointing debut. There’s potential here in the basic concept, but it could use some refinement in all of its aspects. Right now it serves as an early draft rather than a finished product, and I’d expected something a bit more polished. There are still three more issues to go in this introductory mini-series, but I think for now these fifty women will be continuing their quest without me.

2 comments to 50 Girls 50 #1

  • Nita

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. Great review!
    The steady shed of clothing and unnaturally swollen behinds bothered me too. Also, I did not feel an once of sympathy for Oskana when she started to cry in the shower because she came off so whiny and selfish throughout the book.
    It’s ironic that you say all the faces look the same when the writers were praising how the artist gave everyone a distinct look. I read the character profiles, some of which mentioned body types, and looked back through the book. All the women are the same height and have the same build. The woman with the bob was supposed to be slender but she looked just as muscular and butt-endowed as Oskana.

  • […] I picked up 50 Girls 50, I didn’t really pay attention to the creators, I just saw a retro-SciFi pinup girl on the […]