Aero #2 // Review
Shanghai superhero Aero has just been attacked by a building that she designed. She’ll be attacked by another before she can find out who is behind the death and destruction befalling the city she lives in Aero #2. Writer Zhou Liefen gives artist Keng enough room to deliver a story the size of the Shanghai skyline and steps well back to let the story hit the page.
Having vanquished a monster animated from a towering building she designed, Aero wastes little time searching the winds of the city in search of the one responsible for the attack. Valiantly fighting her way to the mastermind, Aero discovers that her enemy is a former ally. In the back-up story, Aero is visiting her colleague Wave in the Philippines. Wave has gone AWOL from the program that granted her superpowers. Now they’re out to bring her back, but Aero and the people of Wave’s home village seek to aid in her defense.
Liefen continues to lift the curtain on the China of the Marvel Universe from the perspective of Shanghai’s protector. Aero comes across as a selfless, altruistic figure. Liefen gives Aero the kind of starkly simple gravitas that makes the Golden Age-style larger-than-life protector feel fresh and genuine. She does have a personal life that is being compromised by her duties as a hero, but the emotional center of the story is Aero’s life as a hero. The central focus of the first two issues of the series have taken very little actual time. In two issues, there have been two action sequences peppered with a few flashbacks. This allows Keng plenty of room to move through the action.
Keng’s work is kinetic and explosive. The Marvel/manga fusion leaps across the page with graceful bluster. There’s a grand sense of perspective as tiny, little Aero gracefully shoots through the air dealing with forces as big as all of Shanghai. The flashback to dinner with Aero and a friend’s near-marriage proposal allows Keng to contrast the action with the tender fumblings of an emotional moment before the action rushes back-in. Keng’s delicately otherworldly visualizations of Aero’s air-based clairvoyance are surprisingly visually dynamic. It’s really, really difficult to bring across the drama of paranormal senses to the comics page. (Even a genius like Steve Ditko had to settle for squiggly lines about Spider-Man’s head for danger sense.) The inner world of a woman with total command over the wind feels elegant in Keng’s hands.
A back-up story of Aero’s earlier years is written by Greg Pak with art by Pop Mahn. The story featuring an escaped government super-agent is an interesting twist on an old superhero trope. It’s a nice supplement to the larger action of the main feature, but Liefen and Keng’s work has such a large and sweeping feel about it that the story from Aero’s past comes across as a dreamy afterthought on the dynamic action that opens the issues.