When a superhero title spawns a spin-off, it can usually be expected that the loyal sidekick or even a prominent rival will be the one taking the spotlight. Always exploring new perspectives on traditional tropes, the new special from Drew Edwards’ perennial action horror series focuses not on one of his paranormally super-powered friends, but on Lucy Chaplin, nominally his girlfriend, but in the world of Solar City, a personality far better-known and admired than her half-dead hunk.
As a whole, the book has a zippy silver age feel to it, featuring a solo adventure with a new threat our heroine is uniquely suited to battle, a fourth-wall-breaking expository piece about Lucy’s professional life & interests, and an in-universe magazine interview with the science starlet herself.
The villain of the first piece, Lucy Chaplin vs the Sons of Samson, is the contemporary strain of toxic masculinity personified, which is to say, the sort of thing a woman like Lucy would deal with daily but with a more intimidating costume – wrapped in the flag, carrying an (iron) cross just above hs codpiece. Like the balance of the issue, this main adventure serves as a slice of super-science life, digging into Dr Chaplin’s public and private personas as she attends to the business of being a multi-axial talent. The action of the story is straightforward, leaving plenty of room to depict our protagonist in turns as an entrepreneur-inventor presenting new technology, a publicity-conscious celebrity, and a bare-knuckle adventurer. Solomon Hitch is not entirely absent, staying in touch while he’s having a very different sort of adventure with a very different aesthetic, illustrating as only the graphic medium can the distance between their respective worlds and the richness of their shared universe. Quiring’s art is a bit of a departure in style for these characters, employing a more detailed and less cartoony look, taking several opportunities to play with layout, perspective, and focus. Lest the audience forget that Dr Chaplin is known for her figure as well as her facility with figures, cheesecake poses in panels and splashes are sprinkled liberally throughout, as are visual easter eggs for fans of 80s animation.
Great Inventions of Lucy Chaplin harkens back to second-person backup features of the sort found in silver age annuals in its approach to worldbuilding, walking us through Lucy’s workshop as she demonstrates the panoply of gear she’s devised with her brand of ecto-enhanced super science and following her out into the field in snappy vignettes where she puts it to use. Tuma’s vision of applied weird science has a distinctly mid-century sci-fi feel to it, which when combined with the horror elements inherent in world that’s being built and Dr Chapin’s bold fashions has the distinct effect of having enjoyed a space opera/zombie double feature at the dive-in and getting the details scrambled the next day due to one’s date being the actual main attraction.
Following a series of fan & artist pinups of Lucy, the final feature, Lucy Chaplin Cosplay Photo Shoot, is framed as an interview in Super Science Monthly titled “Super Science Monthly Interviews Dr Lucy Chaplin”. The interview closely models how a mainstream weekly magazine might approach Lucy, and her responses dovetail neatly with her Halloween Man legendarium. But being a photo shoot, the real attraction here is the fun Jamie Bahr — Edwards’ wife, muse, and well-nigh real-life Lucy — seems to be having playing the role of her comic book doppelgänger.