Dragonfly And Dragonflyman written by Tom Peyer, art by Peter Krause and Russ Braun (graphic novel review).
‘Dragonfly And Dragonflyman’ features a pair of alternate Earths, Earth-Alpha and Earth-Omega, each of which includes a Dragonfly themed super-hero and his teenage sidekick, Stinger. Dragonfly’s world is written and drawn with the darkness of ‘Watchmen’ or ‘The Dark Knight,’ while Dragonflyman’s is a homage to Silver Age comics, with bold colours and ‘pow!’ sound effects.
The book jumps back and forth between each duo as they take on villains and solve crimes which suit their worlds. Mind-rays and boxing kangaroos in one, murder and the hero threatening a criminal’s children in the other. When I heard the idea I was prepared for ‘look, here’s a light and dark version of the same super-hero’ to be all the book had to offer but was surprised by how effective the conceit is in practice. Either one of the strands could be read as a perfectly intense/comical story but flicking between them heightens the sensibilities of each style. For me, the concept works best with the boy-wonder sidekick, Stinger, who in both worlds is struggling to live up to his ‘has all the answers but doesn’t share them’ mentor. The Alpha version struggles to keep his faith in Dragonflyman but is lavishly rewarded for doing so. The Omega Stinger descends deeper and deeper into resentment until he finally snaps.
The book commits to highlighting the differences between each world in as many ways as possible, from colours and lighting to dialogue and plots. The only time I’d say it slips up is when Dragonfly is interrupted in a race against time when he’s attacked by his half-man/half-cactus brother, a comically stupid villain who seems more suited to the Alpha Earth than the Omega.
It turns out that this book is the follow on to ‘The Wrong Earth’, by the same writer, which set up both versions of the Dragonfly super-hero. I haven’t read that original comic but while that obviously means I don’t know the backstory of the characters here, I didn’t find that prevented me from enjoying this book. Without that context, ‘Dragonfly And Dragonflyman’ feels like a comic that you’d pick up mid-run and find yourself enjoying asking ‘wait, who’s she?’ and wondering at what on earth you’d missed to get to this point.
So, having missed the origin story isn’t a problem, though it does lead to my biggest complaint about this book which is that it feels very much like a middle chapter. The beginning is great at quickly and efficiently setting up both worlds, but nothing resolves and you’re left with a series of cliff-hangers. Still, I think it says a lot if the biggest issue with a story is that you want more of it.
‘Dragonfly And Dragonflyman’ takes the premise of two versions of the same hero and runs with it. Rather than relying on the gimmick of mean and moody versus colourful and zany, it delivers two story arcs that are satisfying in their own right and enhanced by dragging you back and forth between them. Recommended.
(pub: AHOY Comics, 2020. 144 page graphic novel. Price: £13.49 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-9980442-8-6)
check out website: www.Comicsahoy.com