After a fun and cheeky first issue, Ryan Kelly’s irreverent superhero romp Funrama continues in its second installment. Raccoon, follows the titular hero, a teenager named Rachel who fights crime under the cover of night, so called for her dramatic eye make-up. Kelly switches gears in this issue, focusing more on Rachel’s personal drama as a high school senior slash superhero, to open up to his broader world of heroes and villains. But because this is Funrama, it’s not your usual cape book.
The child of two powered criminals who raised as a circus performer, Rachel’s obligatory superhero backstory is convoluted and over-the-top. Born with an intense sensitivity to light that gives her superhuman night vision, Rachel uses black eye make-up to absorb the harmful effects of daylight, applied like a domino mask for the sake of her nighttime adventures. She’s joined by her best friends and sidekicks Flora, who communicates with plants, and Freakshow, a shapeshifting apparition, who deliver much of the humor in this issue. Together they help Rachel on her quest to navigate the drudgery of high school by day and atone for the crimes of her bank-robbing parents by night, one costumed villain at a time.
Just trying to graduate in one piece, Rachel’s world is shaken by the appearance of the super-fast Jaguar. Appropriately dark and mysterious, Jaguar means to recruit her to his army to save Funrama from evil forces. There’s a war coming for this island and it’s up to metahumans like them to restore the balance of power. It’s only when her parents arrive from the portal to take her back to Funrama, the source of all these powered humans and their hijinks, that Rachel returns to help.
With its tongue-in-cheek script and engaging graphic narrative, never sacrificing clean design and visual clarity for the sake of action or gags, Funrama #2 is a fun issue that builds on the foundations of the first. Rachel is a familiar angsty teen hero with some interesting twists in her backstory and a great supporting cast to flesh her out. Visually similar to well-known edgy female characters like Kick-Ass’s Hit-Girl and her ilk, she’s a fun character that uses tropes in clever ways. Her origins are so needlessly melodramatic, complete with relatives who seemingly fall into villainy with no real justification, as to sometimes become a bit jumbled. The book breezes through her exposition between jokes and action sequences without pausing to address these instances, either, touching on every cliché it possibly can as though going down a checklist and seemingly aware of this as it happens.
In any other series I would be critical of such an execution, with so much silliness going on at once, but Kelly’s use of these tropes speaks to an understanding and love of the genre he’s poking fun at. Funrama is satirical without being jaded, boasting a mischievous sense of humor that, while overtly silly, comes across more far deferential than puerile. It comes from a loving place, and I think that’s what makes this book so pleasing to read. The book wears its references and allusions on its sleeve and uses them in enjoyable ways, celebrating them as well as making light of their absurdity. And damned if that doesn’t make for a fun book.