Review: “Heroineburgh” Issue 3 – “AntiHeroineburgh”

The Pittsburgh-based superhero enthusiasts behind Heroineburgh are still going strong, delivering more live-action episodes of the web series and a third issue of the Heroineburgh comic book.* 

Originally launching in 2017, Heroineburgh began as a web series featuring the exploits of a large cast of super-powered characters. The project has since expanded to a bi-weekly comic strip and a full comic book series, too, bringing the live-action world to the illustrated page.

Here’s overall gist of the story…

In Heroineburgh, people have started to develop superhuman powers due to a process called epigenetics, in which a person’s genetic activity is augmented without changes being made to the underlying genetic code. Essentially, genes begin to express themselves differently if given the right push.

When a meteor explodes over the skies of Pittsburgh, PA, a dark energy wave activates the dormant epigenes in hundreds of the city’s citizens. The wave shows a strong proclivity for the XX chromosome, which means that nearly all of the super-powered characters – both heroes and villains – are women (yup – just the ladies, fellas). 

But that doesn’t mean that Heroineburgh is made for a strictly female audience. The project was inspired by mainstream superhero media such as Wonder Woman ’77, so Heroineburgh is intended to be enjoyed by everyone.

We previously covered the first two issues of the Heroineburgh comic book series along with a several of the live-action episodes, so this review will act, in part, like an update. If you’d like to check out our initial thoughts on the multiple Heroineburgh projects, go here.

The Heroineburgh Web Series Episodes 19-21

I had the opportunity to watch four of the most recent episodes of the web series (episodes 19 parts 1 and 2, 20, and 21), which have varying runtimes between 15-45 minutes. 

Like the episodes that precede them, these stories all follow several concurrent plot threads. This time around, these all seem to have a central theme of shifting allegiances, with villains turning good, heroines becoming villainous masterminds, and some characters playing both sides to their personal advantage.

Sintilla’s kid sidekick Peccadilla shows herself as an ambitious and interesting kind of double-crosser, the Basque heroine Indarra is introduced as an opportunist, one who will play a situation for gain if it will benefit the overall cause of her Basque people, Red Gina is finding her own footing after a shift from villain to heroine, and even my personal favorite character Crainiac shows his susceptibility to shifting alliances when he is wooed by one of the good gals. 

However, the biggest heel turn comes from the former heroine Spectrina, who finally reveals her inner evil self and adopts a new supervillain identity as Dark Spectra.

The stories are more than just catalogues of changing sides, as there are of course moments of superheroics, too, where the heroines have to stop robberies, rescue one another when they’re overwhelmed by the villainesses of the Black Faction and “Anti-Heroineburgh”. 

These latest episodes also introduce the new heroine, Vigilanta, and while I’m not sure if she is a truly new character, this was at least the first time that I recall seeing a new villainess mastermind, Miss Queen the “Quingpin” – head of Quexxon. Not only did I particularly enjoy the performance of the actress, but I also appreciated the decor of her office, which was outfitted with retro inspired items such as a rolodex and an old school candlestick-style telephone.

All of these episodes culminated in episode 21 with a big showdown between the heroines and a large group of villainesses led by Dark Spectra, which is not nearly as “epic” as superhero afficionados might think. It’s presented as a series of one-on-one fights instead of a well-thought-out brawl. Moments like this highlight the weaknesses of Heroineburgh as a live-action endeavor. It’s unrealistic to expect the same action and effects as those in a Hollywood production, but given the level of camp at play, there’s no reason to not lean into it a bit more, perhaps taking inspiration from the 60’s Batman show and making better use of music and editing to mask the lower production values. I should mention, however, that the varied camera speed at the end of episode 21 was a welcome effect and added some flair to the characters, and the series could use more of precisely that kind of thing.

That said, the audio quality remains another one of the series’ “Achilles’ heels, as the echo and wind noise can often make dialogue difficult to discern, even when wearing headphones. Since so much of the dialogue is written to be delivered as a type of soliloquy, it might be worth trying additional dialogue replacement (ADR) to inject some of these voice-over thoughts to mitigate audio issues. 

For those wondering whether the live action episodes are appropriate for children, it should be noted that there is no graphic violence or nudity, but there is some low-level swearing from time to time. The characters like to call each other “bitches” a lot, which always gives me a chuckle, and there is a statistically improbable number of lesbian relationships (for those who care about those types of things). There was also a moment where the villain Sintillla straight up spanks Dyna. In any case, some “parental discretion is advised” before sharing the show with younger kids.

Your enjoyment of Heroineburgh will almost certainly be tied to your expectations before jumping in. The budget is low and the performances vary quite a bit from actor to actor. The most successful of the bunch do their best to keeps things as campy and over-the-top as possible, either by belting out one-liners or letting loose with overconfident laughter. There are dozens of characters in the mix, so you will likely find at least one or two to gravitate towards. And if nothing else, the creators are clearly passionate about classic comic book superheroics, and I’m pretty sure I spotted an issue of Antarctic Press’s Punchline comic in the background.

If you’re interested, I encourage you to sample the clips on the Heroineburgh YouTube channel, which features segments taken from the web series. 

Heroineburgh Issue 3: Anti-Heroineburgh

The third issue of Heroineburgh is a 16-page comic book is titled Anti-Heroineburgh, and it is written and created by Manny Theiner and features interior artwork by both Benjamin Zeus Barnett and Wayne Brown and cover art by Jason Wright (Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps).

Like the previous issues, Heroineburgh #3 includes two main stories: In the Clutches of Chlorina and Mayhem in Oakland. Both stories are 8 pages each and told from the villains’ perspectives – hence the “Anti-Heroineburgh” subtitle. 

Not just a huntress. A Serbian huntress. Hide the Croats…

In the Clutches of Chlorina picks up from where issue 2’s cliffhanger left off, with the heroic Savanna going toe-to-toe with her villainous sister, Panthyra. Chlorina ambushes them mid-fight, capturing them both with the intent of replicating their genetic abilities. What follows are two fight scenes, one including the heroines Fianna and the German-speaking Frija, and the other taking place across the city between the cat burglar Fenneca and both Cybrina and the Basque heroine Indarra.

In Mayhem in Oakland, the villains Drake and Vaporia recruit “Queen Bee” Devorra to assist the Black Faction by releasing a mind-control pollen at a popular sports event. The plan is to manipulate the crowd to destroy Oakland, which seems like an awful lot of work when recent history clearly demonstrates that all you have to do to get people to burn down their own city is… you know what? Never mind.

The heroines Devana, Poderosa, and Gardenia all respond to quell the situation, but the real threat is taking place elsewhere, as the Quingpin and Crainiac have plan to use nanotechnology to take over the minds of the Heroines themselves. Drake and Vaporia set a trap for the heroines to do precisely that… and not all of the heroines will escape unaffected!

It’s an all-out brawl!

It’s hard to discuss an 8-page story and avoid spoilers at the same time, but I tried my best. In any case, like the Heroineburgh comics and web series episodes before it, the stories in issue 3 are very light-hearted and straight-forward, but meant for a roughly teen-plus audience. There is some PG-13 language from time to time, and the shapely ladies are occasionally given the opportunity to strike a fetching pose. Fenneca does the sexy Spider-Woman pose when trying to score some easy cash, and the award for the best line of issue 3 goes to “Buzzy bitch! Time to answer for your crimes!”

Overall, the tone remains bombastic and grandiose with a focus on superheroic action sequences. We’re starting to more details building up the individual identities of each character (Indarra, for one), but I personally would like to see the comics do to focus on a smaller set of characters, or maybe even one character, which would include extending the stories’ page count beyond 8 pages.

Yo se!

While I’d describe the artwork as “good for indie” level, there are also signs of improvement from issue to issue, particularly in the colors and the layouts. The characters remain very expressive, and I only found one instance of lettering/word balloon confusion in the entire book, which is a marked improvement from the prior issues. However, I did spot some noticeable continuity errors with respect to rips in the characters’ costumes.  

Discussing issue three’s form factor, this issue’s interior pages had the same standard paper stock weight as issue two, so hopefully the overly thick paper stock used for issue one is a thing of the past. One thing that didn’t make the crossover from issues 2 to 3, however, are the 4 bonus pages made up of comic strip material. That means that the book has dropped from 20 pages to 16, which impacts the overall value.

The Heroineburgh comic series remains a good companion to the web series featuring action-heavy plots and a broad array of characters, but those looking for a deep, standalone experience may be disappointed.

You can order issues of the comic directly from the Heroineburgh website here.

Cover art by Jason Wright


It’s been nice to see the Heroineburgh creators continue and make strides to providing improved superhero entertainment offerings, but with those steps forward, it was a bit of a bummer to see the page count drop for the third issue of the comic, and there are a few things that can help kick up the whole Heroineburgh project up a notch or two. 

You can find much more information at the official Heroineburgh website, where you can purchase copies of the Heroineburgh comic book for $9.99 (shipping included!) or purchase episodes of the web series starting at $7.99 each. Don’t forget that you can also visit the Heroineburgh YouTube channel for select clips of the web series and try them out ahead of time. You can also keep up with the Heroineburgh team via FacebookTwitter, or their official website.

*Disclosure: A copy of Heroineburgh episodes 19-21 and issue 3 of the Heroineburgh comic book were provided to The Splintering for the purpose of this review.

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