In a world of over-the-top voice over narration, manic screams and exploding trailers, with sexy mutants bouncing around skyscrapers with CGI-abandon, it’s still refreshing to see the authentic spirit of comic books reflected in Justice Woman, a comedy crime caper created for the web.
By Michael Arangua
Justice Woman embraces the quirk, comedy and pop-art camp that recalls the glory days of Batman (1966) and the Stan Lee / Jerry Siegel era of baby boomer comic books, before they were a matter of 100 million dollar budgets and brand name trademarked Superheroes™.
If you’ve already watched Seasons 1 and 2 of the Justice Woman series, which focused on character development and crime-drama suspense, you might notice that Season 3 has taken a triumphant return to comedy, providing more laughs and outrageous scenes per minute than in the first two seasons. More screen time has also been given to supporting cast members Lee J. Kaplan, as the closeted Robert Gallion but flamboyant sidekick Roberta by night, and Luke Guldan, as good old boy and prosecutor Kevin Murchinson.
Justice Woman herself, aka Sofia Escala, runs the gamut of emotion this season, as she must contend not only with threats and intimidations from a secret criminal empire, but also with the sudden appearance of her ex-fiancé, played by a suspicious-looking Douglas Santiago, as well as co-workers who are very quickly becoming wise to Sofia’s dual identity as Justice Woman, and even an in-office appearance by her overbearing mother, Mama Escala, played by Nina Rochelle.
The Justice Woman cast is dealing with just as many personal demons in Season 3 as they are organized crime, as Sofia struggles with ambivalent emotions to Anthony Stewart, who is finally apologizing for the mistakes of the past, and possibly the only character shrewd enough to apologize to Sofia in legalese.
Meanwhile, Kevin Murchinson reveals a pathos of his own this season that’s unexpected; a golden boy in court and a family favorite by name, and yet an epic failure in social manners, in dating success and in lifelong happiness. Actor Luke Guldan seems to channel a Bush family member, but with a certain naiveté and self-consciousness, revealing himself as an overgrown child way out of his league.
Perhaps it’s an irony that sidekick Robert, usually a nervous and self-destructive type, gets to be the hero this season, offering moral support to Sofia and being the voice of reason, as Sofia gets dangerously close to trusting the wrong people. And of course, Robert still has his gay cross to bear—fighting off curious women at work who are throwing themselves at him, testing to see just how closeted he really is.
Writer, director and actress Vanessa Verduga has a lot of fun with Justice Woman and gives some whimsical scenes of what it might actually be like to be a superhero in the real world; i.e. hanging out at a BDSM bar so that no one will think spandex tights and masks are out of the ordinary.
She also boosts up the comedy and suspense using creative visual and aural effects ala party shows like Glee. Besides the Batman-esque ironic-suspenseful captions at the end of each episode, and the live motion comic art that segues into the next scene, the background music is also drunkenly droll at times, playing cowboy dirges when southerner Kevin takes the screen answering accusations about stealing lollipops, and intense telenovela chords during Sofia and Anthony’s attempted reconciliation.
Justice Woman is a series that boldly walks the line between comedy, suspense and social satire, and it’s really the wave of the future—a show written for youth, while criticizing everything about the adult world that we know is wrong, legalese not needed. It’s not a show about fake superheroes attacking giant worms from space—it’s about the quintessential state of “being a hero” inside, the kind of emotional catharsis that brought Stan Lee to tears in his Who Wants to be a Superhero? cable show.
In such a screwed up world where Republicans actually defend Megyn Kelly against Donald Trump’s sexism, but all the while still agree with his genocidal promises of forcibly expelling all undocumented immigrants and their legal children from the country, we have to wonder where all of our real life superheroes have gone. The only thing Democrats and Republicans seem to agree on these days is that whistleblowers ought to be punished for treason.
Justice Woman needs a healthy dose of comedy since the implications of its real world drama are disturbing. There is no legal or ethical perspective on immigration when the whole system is, by the state’s own admission, unfair and corrupt. And the only one who wants to help the innocent here, is a crime fighter who’s breaking all the rules and inciting the wrath of the police and the judicial system.
It’s refreshing to watch a show like Justice Woman that makes no legal pretenses about what is moral and what isn’t. A real world crime fighter like Sofia knows what she has to do—protect the innocent and fight “legal” injustices as long as she lives and breathes.
That’s just what heroes do and it’s a campaign promise we just don’t hear enough of these days.
Justice Woman Season 3 is now playing on its YouTube channel, CLICK HERE.