Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Writer: Ryan Browne
Artist: Pete Woods
In 2008 Dynamite released Alex Ross and Jim Kreuger’s Project Superpowers. To all who love the superheroes of the so called Golden Age it was a treat. For many years people waited for more, and eventually the spin offs came, not the way readers expected it though.
Apart from the natural continuation of Project Superpowers; Black Terror, Death-Defying Devil, Masquerade and The Owl, it wasn’t until 2015 that a new series saw the light. Project Superpowers: Blackcross, written by Warren Ellis, was unlike the series it came from, and to most the only similarities were names of heroes and the title. More of a murder mystery with supernatural overtones, it most likely was a disappointment to those who expected something like the traditional storytelling. Now Dynamite have once again delved into the Golden Age pool, releasing Herokillers by Ryan Browne and Pete Woods. It too hailed as being from the pages of Project Superpowers.
Like Blackcross, the story has little to do with the original book. It takes place in Libertyville, a place dubbed as Murdertown U.S.A. The mayor, an interesting fellow called Smooth Willie Williams JR., offers a crap ton of money to superheroes who might come and clean the city up. The heroes are given tax breaks, annual salaries and bonuses based on performances. The end result is a safe city where heroes outnumber criminals. As is true with bored teenagers, the heroes soon lash out and become self destructive, none more so than Black Terror, who turns to alcohol and women of loose morals.
While Herokillers isn’t Project Superpowers, or Blackcross, it has its own charm. There is a warmth and humor to it that the other books lacked. It takes the superhero genre and twists it, making the heroes look more pathetic and sad. Maybe this is because they do not have a purpose in life, or maybe because they’ve always been a-holes. In the end it doesn’t really matter. Sure some readers might be disappointed again, because it makes fun of the genre and these characters, but it’s all very intertaining. A constant commenting from the editor Matt makes the series more meta, and the style of Woods brings it all together.
It will be interesting to see where this series goes and how these serious characters react when being thrown into absurdity.
Writer: Fred van Lente
Artist: Francis Portela
Publisher: Valiant Comics
In her hour of need Keisha Sherman decides to contact the group Generation Zero, her boyfriend has recently died in a car accident, but she believes there to be some very odd circumstances surrounding this death and she needs answers. Keisha lives in a town called Rook a place sentenced to die due to unemployment until a savior comes and revitalizes it. After her boyfriend’s death there indeed seems to be something sinister going on and it becomes clear that drunk driving wasn’t the cause. Generation Zero, a team of young psiots who have broken free from an evil corporation and help people, arrive in the city, infiltrate the high school and begin their investigation.
As soon as the investigation interesting and strange things are uncovered and the group, with Keisha are in immediate danger.
Generation Zero is yet another title that contains all those things we have come to expect from Valiant’s titles. Great storytelling combined with great art. It reflects a city in decline because of a failing economy and those that might pray on such places. It’s about fitting in, about tropes we recognize from TV shows like Stranger Things; the fantastical mixed with the mundane. There are enough conspiracy angles, pop culture references and mutant like powers to satisfy all various fandoms.
Once again Valiant drags us into its intriguing universe by blending nostalgia, social criticism, intrigue, compelling plots and wonderful art. Generation Zero makes one want to come back for more.
Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Clayton Crain
In the very distant future, New Japan is in trouble. The kingdom, these days orbiting earth, is ruled by the omnipotent artificial intelligence Father, who commands New Japan with an iron fist through various channels and pacifies the people. His son, Rai, incites a rebellion and after apparently being defeated by Father and believed dead his partner Lulu infects the A.I. with a virus. This cause Father to lose control and begins to drop parts of New Japan back to earth in order to get rid of the virus, killing thousands in the process. And that’s just the prologue…
As Lulu continues to fight the good fight while her section of New Japan is set for demolition and her parents beg her to turn herself in, Rai is still alive, trapped on Earth. With the aid of two companions and a mech-like ship the trio ventures back to the orbiting nation for a final confrontation with Father.
There is quite a bit that goes on in 4001 A.D. and at a very high pace. The few issues that the collection is comprised of tells a very compressed tale that flashes by in colorful art. It isn’t very intricate, the story, a science-fiction version of a trope we have heard before, but that in no way makes it dull. The context and society that has spawned it makes for very interesting social commentary. Father numbs the people of New Japan with entertainment, which makes them uninterested in the world around them, very much like the unnamed government in 1987’s Running Man. What Father’s motives actually are remain unanswered as such, but a misguided love, like the one Stalin might have had towards the Russians. He and Rai seem to be fighting towards the same end goal, but with a very different view of one best reaches it.
Rai, who like the monster in Frankenstein has been created by a mad entity, becomes confronted by humanity and love and that is what shapes him, that is what causes him to rebel and in turn inspires others to join the fight. There is much to be discussed between the pages of 4001 A.D.; friendship, loyalty, love and parenthood and as a reader one wishes, when it is all said and done, that there had been more, more to sink your teeth into.
As with most Valiant titles the artwork is beautiful, filled with vibrant imagery and intense colors. It moves the story along and hints at a bigger picture and a wider world. It makes the entire 4001 A.D. world more mysterious and interesting and even though the four issues only treat a small portion of the story, a quick glance of a greater whole, it becomes exciting and furious.
All in all, a book like 4001 A.D. really shows the strengths of Valiant as a publisher and universe.
Writer: Jody Houser
Art: Francis Portela & Marguerite Sauvage
When looking out over Los Angeles one might see her soaring through the sky; Faith Herbert, also known as Zephyr of the Harbinger Resistance. Having left her friends and adopting a secret identity she drudges through life as Susan, working at an internet site eventually tasked with watching a reality show starring her ex-boyfriend Torque. When not stuck in her cubicle Faith flies around and stops crime even if it doesn’t quite turn out as in her vivid daydreams. When she realizes that someone is hunting psiots, that her ex is quite uninterested in superhero work she sets out to investigate it herself, but when she in an unguarded moment reveals herself, she becomes a target.
Faith is in many instances a perfect comic. It takes a female superhero and avoids all the stereotypical traps that they jump into without thought. The character of Faith is also exactly what happens when a true nerdy fan girl has supernatural powers and abilities. The story in this first collected issue appears, at first glance, to be quite basic with kidnappings and the like, but it is quickly revealed that there is depth here and an ingenuity that is refreshing. The artwork is nice and the juxtaposition between Faith’s reality and her daydreams is clever. Faith’s job at a buzzfeed like internet magazine and the reality show makes the comic close to its social context and it speaks to the reader showing that the writer, Jody Houser, is in tune with the trends of the day. Something that actually isn’t that common in the comic world of today. Another aspect that Valiant does so well is the use of the shared universe and the continuity they have created; Archer makes an appearance.
All in all; Faith is the comic book we all deserve and is clever, witty, exciting and entertaining.