Welcome to a world where ass-kicking nuns show more cleavage than Dolly Parton, the Vatican has a high tech military branch, and Satan communicates with earth via human sacrifice-powered computer. Welcome to the world of Warrior Nun Areala!
I really have no idea where or when I picked these up, but on investigating them a bit, I was very surpised to learn that they are NOT English reprints of Japanese comics, as the manga-style art would suggest. Instead, they are from a company based in Texas. Go figure.
WARRIOR NUN AREALA (vol. 1)
Wow. . .there's a LOT going on here as Ben Dunn lays down the framework for an entire (then) new religion-based superhero universe pretty much in a single issue!
The basic idea here is that the Vatican secretly fights the forces of evil in modern times through a high-tech S.H.I.E.L.D. - like military branch. Some of their agents also utilize magical powers.
The story focuses on a young "Warrior Nun" just out of training named Shannon and on her first assignment in New York just as a wave of demonic attacks begin.
Also introduced is Shotgun Mary, a former Warrior Nun who left the order and now fights evil no-holds barred on her own as a sort of female (Holy) Punisher.\
The villain of the story is Julius Salvius, a Roman Emperor who traded his soul for eternal life, who is now tired of living and has made another deal. . .the destruction/sacrifice of New York City (and all the souls in it) in exchange for death.
All in all, I have to say this is a quality production. The art is top notch on every panel, and the colors REALLY stand out as being deep and rich in every way. The story is a bit crowded, but it's a nice introduction to the universe. There's a few clunky moments of exposition, and although the art is fantastic, it's a bit juvenile in many places, with plenty of spread legs, barely-restrained boobs/cleavage, and erect nipples under cloth.
To be honest, it's all really sort of a hot mess. . .but it's still a good sort of hot mess with fantastic artwork, nicely introducing us to an interesting universe of religious superheroics.
After the crowded introduction of the first issue, this one settles into a crowded, pretty much issue-long battle between the forces of good (The Warrior Nuns), evil (Julius Salvius) and MORE evil (Demon Queen Lilith) in a round robin battle where the Vatican and Hades are fighting together against Satan, and don't realize they're on the same side.
The art is still fantastic (I LOVE the deep, rich colors on this series), but still remains a bit juvenile in many places (lots of spread legs and nipples under cloth).
The story itself (being mostly a running battle) isn't great, and I can tell where the writer liberally borrowed from Dungeons & Dragons lore with references to the "Prime Material Plane", low-level "Lemurs", and the demon lord Orcus. . .among others. The fights have some eye-rolling moments as well, especially when Shannon shouts out the names of the powers she's using, anime or video game style. . .VIRGIN KICK! ROSARY ATTACK!
So the great art and interesting universe save this issue from a 2 star rating, because at the end of the day, it's just a long fight scene. . .
This short series comes to a close with a crowded, messy, bang! The good thing is that, as much of a hot mess as it is, it's STILL a pretty damn good read.
The art remains fantastic (Still lots of spread legs, erect nipples, and barely-contained boobs. . .including a demon whose boobs are covered pretty much with two band-aids on the nipples), with the coloring (for me) being the standout star of THIS show from first issue to last.
Once again, this issue is pretty much a long battle as the 3 forces involved. . .the Vatican with Warrior Nuns and Magic Priests. . .Hades with Lillith and her minion demons. . .and Satan with Julius Salvius and his demon minions. . .all rush into climactic battle with each other.
Oh. . .and the U.S. Marines jump in because. . .reasons?
It's chaotic, it's messy, and it's a lot of fun. There's even a moment where I think Dunn is poking fun at DC's attempt at making a religious superhero as Lillith easily takes down a Vatican hero called "The Cleric" who is such an obvious copy of Azrael (O.G. red hooded 90's Azrael) that I'm surprised a lawsuit didn't come of it. Maybe they just never noticed. The scene is only a few panels.
ANYWAY. . .
The final battle is a mess, but it was still a lot of fun. There were some "What are you going to do now." moments at the end that nicely set up future stories in this universe.
All in all, this series was an excellent introduction to Dunn's religious superhero universe and it left me wanting to know more. Could have used a bit more story moments, but the series did the job it was supposed to do, and it did it pretty well.
And there you have it. . .Antarctic Press' 3 issue Warrior Nun Areala (vol. 1) mini.
All in all, I enjoyed this series. The art was great, even though it often seemed to be pretty much an excuse to draw sexy women. The story was a bit light, and was mostly fighting, but it served as a good introduction to the world of religious superheroes that Dunn had created. Overall, with the good taken with bad, I'd suggest this mini to anybody interested in a different take on superheroes as long as they don't mind a LOT of manga-style boobs on the page. . .
Up next. . .
Captain America: Theater of War. 6 one-shots that form a loose series showing the heroic legacy of my favorite super-soldier from WWII to the modern Middle East conflicts. Be there or be square!
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