Single and nearly friendless, this incarnation of Shanna is almost apologetic about the human connections she does have. I find that deeply sad, but original-flavor Shanna was also slow to admit to any joy in her life that wasn’t colored by sarcasm.

The most important thing I can tell you about Shanna is that she is born from my doubt. I’m a very optimistic, idealistic person overall, but if you don’t have a cynic in you somewhere, you’re not paying attention. In the original Fans, that doubt manifested as a challenge to the comic’s thesis, its idealism about imagination and about geek culture as an extension of the imaginative life.

Here, she’s sort of challenging Guilded Age‘s thesis, a little less obviously. The story is mostly about big-as-life heroes who fight not just tentacled beasts and trolls but also fight subtler monsters– racism, income inequality, disinformation– and fight the humans who profit from those monsters. And I hope it inspires people to fight that kind of fight in real life, but Shanna would laugh unpleasantly at me for that. In her view, fantastic heroes only distract us from real-world awfulness and atrocity. True, she is starting to wade into corporate espionage and assume some personal risk, but in this chapter, she’ll be relying on her ordinary looks, quiet networking, and eye for boring detail, not Catwoman-like burglary skills, brutal Jack Bauer-style interrogations, or wildly improbable computer hacking.

But she wouldn’t be a doubter worth respecting if she couldn’t modify her beliefs a bit in the face of firm evidence. While her unglamorous kind of work is crucial here, she’ll start looking a bit more like an action hero before this is all over, just as she evolved in her last major incarnation.

We have to be our own heroes at some point, whether we feel like heroes or not. “There’s just us. We’re all we get.”