The Hues is a webcomic made by Alex Heberling featuring post-apocalyptic magical girls, a diverse cast, and a mysterious alien race.
…You had me at “post-apocalyptic magical girls.”
This webcomic centers around Sami, a 17-year-old girl based in Columbus, OH, who witnesses a mysterious signal from an alien race. Turns out the signal is a literal doomsday clock, and when it goes off, the aliens descend into the city and annihilate it completely. The ones left behind are Sami and other girls who have mysterious magical powers like her, and it’s up to them to fight off the aliens.
I love everything about this webcomic.
To start, the main cast is ethnically and physically diverse. Look at this line up!
You don’t see that often in magical girl stories.
Plus, the way the story opens is a nice change from the usual magical girl fare.
Because the USUAL magical girl fair opens with the protagonist waking up late for school and rushing out the door. But then she encounters something MAGICAL on the way to school and gets her powers.
Not with The Hues (thank goodness).
It opens with Sami making a YouTube video about the signal in the sky over her home city.
Plus, the characters have a variety of personal histories. They’re not detailed in the first 2 chapters, but the hints leave you intrigued.
The art is actually a standout from other webcomics, in that it’s all digital painting. It almost looks like vector art. There are few comics that are drawn like this, but the artistic style suits the story it conveys. It’s animated and colorful, but also dark.
This series is definitely worth checking out. And the best way to do it?
Alex is actually running a KickStarter campaign to release the first 3 chapters in a book, featuring bonus materials and remastered art! I know I backed the campaign, and you should, too. It only has a few days left!
I love Hiromu Arakawa’s work. She’s one of my biggest inspirations in my comics-making career.
But I haven’t read much of her work outside of Fullmetal Alchemist and bits and pieces of a volume of A Hero’s Tale. I know. I bring shame upon my nerd head.
My friend Chloe, who is also a big fan of Arakawa’s, gifted me The Heroic Legend of Arslan (volumes 1 and 2) for Christmas. I heard Arakawa was working on this with a writer by the name of Yoshiki Tanaka, so I was super excited to read this.
I was thoroughly entertained.
Is it perfect? No. There are times where it feels like the characters are just throwing up exposition, but the action, the art, and the sincere characters really pull you through.
The story is about a prince named Arslan. He is the son of the war-hardened King Andragoras, who has never lost a battle. When Arslan reaches the age of 14, he rides into battle with his father against the Lusitanians, and I will stop there or else I would spoil it.
The first chapter of this manga was actually written by Arakawa, and takes place four years prior to the main events, to help give some context for the rest of the story. Don’t skip that chapter. It actually helps to give some wonderful insights into the character of Arslan, and is entertaining as hell.
One thing I noticed though, is the character designs.
In Arakawa’s work, she tends to use character designs that are similar across her work. To help clarify, take a look at Solf J. Kimblee from Fullmetal Alchemist, versus Marzban Daryun from Arslan.
Now take a look at Armstrong from Fullmetal Alchemist and Eran Vahriz from Arslan.
It’s Armstrong with a beard!
I think the reason behind this is that this references something done by one of the original manga masters, Osamu Tezuka. Tezuka took character designs across works like this because he was heavily influenced by movies. He saw the characters as actors, and he would have the actors take on new roles in various productions…or comics.
I think that’s what Arakawa does, as well. Her characters are actors taking on new roles. Is this an intentional homage? Or an art gag? Knowing Arakawa, it could be both.
Back to the manga, once you get into chapter 2, that’s when the warring and battles start. This is the real meat and potatoes of this first volume in the manga series. And it’s written and illustrated well. It’s not for the weak at heart, though, because it does feature a lot of impaling and catching people on fire.
You know, war.
Because of that, the characters (Arslan is a sweetie and Daryun is my all-time favorite), and the art, The Heroic Legend of Arslan is the rare story that has gotten me interested in manga again! I could not set this book down because I was so excited and eager to see what would happen next.
So if you’re tired of seeing the same old romantic-comedy manga on book shelves, give this series a try. It’s a breath of fresh air.