Comics Features Reviews

“Freakier Than Normal” Has Fun With Genre

freakier than normal

Freakier Than Normal is a story focusing on Mia – also called Miyuki. Written by Francisco Balbuena and Edwuard Mirabel, with art by Maximo Montero and Darwin Nunez; the comic follows Mia and her family, Jixel and Nicole. Mia is a gamer who would rather play than focus on school. However, everything changes when she gets struck by a comet. She accidentally absorbs a fragment of the comet, giving her mysterious powers. Aliens rapidly abduct her and her family, but she quickly gets them out. This leads to a series of complications having to do with secret agents, superheroes, and a good deal of video game references.

This comic has multiple art styles depending on the artist of a particular chapter. All of the styles are dynamic and interesting. They have inspiration taken from manga. This makes sense on the whole as Mia seems to be a bit of a weeb. Freakier Than Normal uses very bright colors that give it a pop art feel. The characters are all textured in ways that give them a very glossy look. There’s a clean edge feel to the pictures that make them feel like standard superhero schtick. But the art styles chosen are very unique themselves – most certainly in a way that feels contrary to the samey-sameness that mainstream comics often fall into.

One major flaw to this however is the way that the male writers and artists treat their mainly female cast. In case you’re wondering, the male gaze is alive and well in the frequent closeups to Jixel’s chest and Mia’s butt. This seems to be a case where the characters say one thing while the visuals tell us another. The concept works well on paper. But it’s very suggestive in practice, in a way that feeds into the gamer girl stigma. This is unfortunate; Mia, Jixel and Nicole are fun characters who deserve proper respect. I am honestly not even sure how old they are all supposed to be! Well, maybe except for Jixel, who is explicitly an adult. The concept is troublesome in that respect.

Despite this rather glaring flaw, Freakier Than Normal does have its good points. It has a silly and entertaining premise, which brings some levity to what can be a serious genre. There’s also the strength of not taking itself too seriously. Mia makes jokes about deus ex machinas and (ugh) hentai. Also, her boss fight with one of the aliens plays like a video game – with damage tallies attached! One of her new allies also goes by the name Gamerboy. A rather uninspired name, I must say. But it does get the point across. Freakier than Normal also has the interesting advantage of being bilingual. It is available in both English and Spanish, which widens the target audience.

While sensing core themes can be difficult in an easy-going story such as this, it clearly underlines the value of trying your best. Like many shounen protagonists, Mia refuses to give up even against bad odds. Her determination is her most defining quality. It acts as both a blessing and a curse. It also makes for a compelling story. Believing in oneself may not always be enough, but it sets them on the right path.

Looking for a space adventure with gaming themes that can be read in both English and Spanish? Freakier than Normal is anime and manga inspired, and is now available for purchase! Check out all the info over on its Carrd. Like it, love it, can’t stand it? Give us all the juicy details on our Twitter or Instagram!

About the author

Layna Putterman