When you imagine the most badass covert ops team the world has ever known, what do you see? Perhaps the cast from The Facts of Life? No? That’s exactly why they’re going to take you down.
The Society of Unordinary Ladies by Wahab Algarmi with art by Joel Sigua and D.Y. and Jayce G. Wah, is one of the most unusual web comics I’ve ever come across. And quite possibly, the most genius.
The Society of Unordinary Ladies , or SUL, is a confusing story at first. It starts off as what appears to be a covert mission from the United States to stop Chernobyl from exploding during the Cold War. A group of what appear to be teenage schoolgirls are the ones tasked with carrying out the mission. While reading the first issue, something nudges at the back of your brain. “Something about all of this is very familiar,” you think. Then you spot it…“Did they just stick in a subtle A-Team cameo?” Ok, that’s kind of odd for a political based story but I went with it, then I looked back and saw “Agent Bartakamos” and “Charles and Buddy.” This was no ordinary story about war, this is a story about war…populated by television characters from the 80s!
It’s at this point some people would be so confused or turned off that they’d stop reading. Not I. The premise got me excited in a way few comics do. Doing what I do for a living, I get a lot of comics thrown in my direction and it can get tough figuring out what’s worth the time to read. It’s almost always better stumbling across something by yourself, or in this case, through friends. A few of mine were chatting excitedly about SUL last week and although I didn’t hear what it was actually about, they seemed excited enough about it that I bookmarked it for future reading.
SUL is simply amazing. It takes characters we’re very familiar with, Punky Brewster (spunky as ever), Evie Garland (completely wicked), Small Wonder (as annoying as ever) and more and puts them in the most unlikely scenarios. We’re used to seeing these characters deal with homework or after-school jobs, not preventing World War III. But that’s the magic of it. SUL is like Vertigo’s Fables (in which storybook characters are brought to life in ways you never expected to see them) for pop-culture. The comic doesn’t limit itself to the 80s either. I won’t ruin the plethora of amazing guest appearances, they really are too good to spoil, but you’ll also see the likes of Lassie and Wednesday Adams along the way.
SUL plays out similar to the way a television episode would, you can even tell where the commercial breaks would be. There are references upon references and I’m sure not even I caught them all. It may not be as charming for someone born in the 90s or after but for someone my age and with as much pop-culture knowledge as I have just wasting away in my brain, it’s pretty hilarious. Those who don’t get the references at all can still enjoy SUL for the cool spy-thriller it is.
Currently there are four issues of SUL available on Algami’s website. And from all indications there is supposed to be one more. Here’s the strange thing though, I can’t seem to find any work from the creator after July of 2010, which is an awful shame. Algarmi has shown a tremendous imagination and talent in this series and I would hate to see it go unfinished. I couldn’t find any indication online of why it hasn’t been concluded or what Algami is up to now but if anyone knows, please drop me a line.
In the world we live in, full of remakes and reboots of 80s classics, The Society of Unordinary Ladies would be a no-brainer adaptation. Of course, you’ve got those pesky rights issues to deal with with countless properties being utilized on the page. I imagine it would be a lot of fun as a Robot Chicken-like series though.
What is it about nostalgia? Why can’t we let these things go? You don’t see anyone remaking I Love Lucy (don’t even think about it). What is it about the 80s? Was everything just that awesome? Putting blinders on I’d say sure but we all know how cheesy some of those shows were and how must of them don’t play the same way in our eyes now. But it does say something that they live on in media like this and that they can still bring so much joy to our lives. Even if it is by shooting machine guns and infiltrating enemy territories.
The Society of Unordinary Ladies Issue #1
The Society of Unordinary Ladies Issue #2
The Society of Unordinary Ladies Issue #3
The Society of Unordinary Ladies Issue #4