This is a pleasing tale that explores the concept of why people don’t put on masks and become super heroes. A high school kid does just that and has to deal with the consequences as well as dealing with school, friends, family and relationships. This isn’t a sugar-coated fantasy. This explores the real truth of our violent world and why people are too afraid to stand up for themselves and others.
The storytelling switches between narration and action and starts with a cool flashback. There are some great setups and payoffs and it is an excellent piece of writing. The art is great and very appropriate having a real teen feeling that captures life surrounding kids today. There is a lot of gore however and the cartoony feel helps defuse this. The lettering actually stood out with an unusual but highly readable font selected for the narration. There are little touches like turning narration boxes into diary entries to help differentiate who is speaking.
There are an awful lot of pop culture and comics literature references and if you get them you will smile and if you don’t they should just slip over your head unnoticed. It is very refreshing to read such a grounded examination of the superhero mythos and of our current society. Millar does nail his politics to the flagpole and also promotes his other comics within the story which feels a little jarring but not often enough to spoil the immersion. One of the protagonists has an unusual motivation (very different from the film version) that, whilst striking, didn’t feel right to me. There is an obvious setup for a sequel in an “Unbreakable” style.
Definitely a Thumbs Up!
Tomorrow: Defoe 1666 – Pat Mills. PLUS bonus review: Temporary (Cubes and Ladders) – Damon Hurd & Rick Smith