Seldom seen in mainstream circles, writer Mikel Miles is fast becoming one of underground comic’s most important new voices. Having hit a home run with his Samurai Shin series, blending anime aesthetics, slick storytelling and a hip hop soundtrack, Miles is back with a new demo manga – Her Impact!
Like its predecessor, the Toronto native uses the trappings of anime and manga to weave familiar stories around Afro Asian characters. While Samurai Shin drew on Afro Samurai and Samurai Champloo, Her Impact! is more concerned with sporting – specifically, boxing.
Issue 0 introduces us to Sadie Hiroshi, the daughter of a Canadian sports reporter and a Japanese boxing legend. Despite her parentage, she found herself in a boring but well-paid law firm with a boss like a composite of #MeToo experiences. But her dad’s legacy leaves big gloves to fill. A pivotal match in the sixties saw him as the top contender against Japan’s reigning heavyweight champ. But we don’t find out the fight’s outcome. Just like the rest of this first issue, so much is teased.
At the centre is Sadie herself. As an African-Japanese single working mum, it’s no exaggeration to say that she sticks out. She’s standoffish and spunky, with that tsundere streak readers will appreciate, yet charming and endearing. After picking up some manga as a reward for her son’s school performance – notice the Samurai Shin Easter egg – Sadie has a chance encounter that leads her to attending a boxing group for women staring, her dad’s legacy in the face.
Miles’ sharp and street-smart script is one half of the formula, with the other made up of artist Sukma Agustriyana. The panels have that kinetic energy and visceral quality of the best sport manga, with the power of each punch plain to see, rendered with such detail you can almost smell the salt-copper tang of sweat and blood.
As with Sadie, the manga is a cross-cultural affair, making for a perfect hybridisation of western and Asian comic styles. Yes, it reads left to right, but it’s ostensibly a manga, with all the trappings one would expect. There’s even a super move – Hiroshi Supercut, FYI. All this and more add up to an abrupt but fulfilling read that left me excited for the future of the series. All the signs point towards it being a worthy contender to Katsu!
For a free download on issue 0, click here.