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Comic Book / Primer (2020)

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"Rainbow Dash!"

Primer is a 2020 DC Comics graphic novel for kids. It is written by Jennifer Muro (Star Wars: Forces of Destiny) and Thomas Krajewski, and illustrated by Gretel Lusky.

In Washington D.C., troublemaking daughter-of-a-criminal Ashley Rayburn seems to have found her most recent set of very temporary foster parents, Yuka and Kitch Nolan. Unlike the others, however, the family quickly comes together like the perfect picture. But when Ashley finds Yuka's secret collection of superpower-inducing bodypaint, trouble may be after her this time...

Followed by Primer: Clashing Colors which sees her trying out to be in the Teen Titans.

Not to be confused with the film Primer.

Tropes in this comic include:

  • Abusive Parent: Ashley's flashback shows she lived in poor conditions with a dad involved in crime. He had no problem getting her to help him kill a policeman and it's later shown he's been gaslighting her to believe he's the only one who can love her.
  • Big "NO!": Young Ashley's reaction to her dad killing a cop with the gun she handed him.
  • The Cameo: Ashley mentions Batman, and Kitch has a Batman shirt. Ashley is also a fan of the Gotham Knights football team.
  • Children Are Innocent: When she was younger, Ashley listened to her dad when he told her to give him his gun, not understanding what was happening. Only after he shot the cop he was struggling with did she realize what she had done.
  • Combo Platter Powers: After applying a special spray, three colors of the super body-paints can be applied, so you can have three powers at a time. Any more than three, and you overload. You have the powers as long as the paints are on you, so water can wash it off. The paint containers refill but only over time, requiring the user to pick what paints they wish to use carefully. The powers include super-strength, flight, super-speed, invulnerability, pyrokinesis, cryokinesis, telekinesis, healing factor and regeneration, power copying, teleportation, sonic blasting, shapeshifting into other people, elastic stretching, shrinking yourself, growing large, emotion control over others, super-intelligence, heightened senses, self-duplication, animorphism, controlling plants, reactive and environmental adaptation, matter absorption, precognition, absorption/storage/redistribution of kinetic energy, dimensional storage of items (...or something?), electrokinesis, power nullification, technopathy, force fields, mind control and mind reading, illusion creation, and ghosting/intangibility.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Ashley lived in squalor conditions with her crook father. As a young obedient girl, she gave him his gun to kill a cop that he was fighting. He was eventually caught and sent to prison while Ashley was bounced from foster home to foster home.
  • Freudian Excuse:
    • Ashley's rebellious/mischievous attitude and knack for troublemaking comes from her Dark and Troubled Past caused by listening to her father and butting heads with various foster families that ended up not wanting her.
    • Ashley becomes paranoid that the Nolans may not want her, just like with her other foster parents.
  • Gaslighting: When Ashley visits her dad in prison, he tries to get into her head that he's the only one who loves her and he's her real family. Evidently, this has been going on for a while, but after being taken in by the Nolans, Ashley finally tells him that he's not her family anymore and she won't see him anymore.
  • I Have No Son!: Parental version with Ashley. After being lovingly taken in by the Nolans, Ashley finally stands up to her biological father, saying that as much as he may claim otherwise, he isn't her "real family" anymore and she wants nothing to do with him.
  • I Have Your Wife: After Ashley escapes from him with the teleportation paint, Strack lures her back by holding Kitch and Yuka hostage.
  • Kid Hero: Ashley is a middle-schooler, but also the heroic Primer.
  • Mundane Utility: Ashley considers using the super-intelligence paint for tests.
  • Mythology Gag:
  • Only Friend: Luke is the only person Ashley seems to have befriended at her new school.
  • Phlebotinum Overload: Ashley discovers for herself that putting on too many colors can hurt the user, so Luke suggests she only use three at a time. Comes in handy later when she dumps a fourth color on Strack to stun him.
  • Sequel Hook: The comic ends with the government approving of Primer's heroic career and giving her a supersuit, and Ashley's father recognizing Primer as Ashley, sinisterly vowing to see her again soon... Not to mention Primer's still got plenty of other colors to show off.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Ashley and Luke's school is Angelou Middle School, presumably named for Maya Angelou.
    • A young girl thinks the new Primer is Rainbow Dash.

Alternative Title(s): Primer