Written by Gordon Mclean, art by Caio Oliveira
I reviewed No More Heroes Issue 1 not long ago, and found it alright, but guilty of underwhelming with it’s brevity, and part of the modern disease of taking a comic to tell something that used to be done in a couple of pages, decompressed storytelling gone mad etc etc.
But this second issue is more like what I was expecting from a good, tongue in cheek, blackly comic bit of superhero noir nonsense. This is still fast paced, but having got over the initial need to set the thing up Mclean has settled back a little and gone about fleshing out the characters.
So where that first issue was essentially about poor Sid, who does a stupid thing – answering “yes” to a text message setting up depressed superhero Dark Justice to die, and the subsequent fallout when Dark Justice’s sidekick Black Fury gets hold of Sid, this one pulls up a chair, settles back, slows down a touch, and delivers something far more involving and rewarding.
In issue 2 we’re sitting in with poor, hopeless Sid in a dive bar for supervillain goons, acting as bait in Black Fury’s plan to find and kill the supervillain Jack Slaughter, the man who he believes is ultimately responsible for Dark Justice’s death.
But between us joining Sid in the bar and him getting recruited at issues end, we get a lot of interesting stuff thrown our way in flashback; starting with a quick example of just how mad and bad Jack Slaughter can be. This, in the opening sequence, is just the start…. he does far, far worse later on….. but there are children here who are NEVER going to be able to visit the zoo again after what Jack’s just done.
And it’s that far, far worse that seems to be the final straw for Dark Justice, who was already on a bit of a mental knife edge, already exhibiting all those signs of losing it, and not being able to deal with Slaughter, not being able to save innocent lives, really sends him down into depression and the bottle.
Hints of difficult relationships, with the booze, religion, and his sidekick are all in there, and Mclean does a nice job of hinting, yet never spelling out implicitly; far better this way.
We’re definitely in Garth Ennis territory here, and most obviously we’re referencing so much of what he’s done in “The Boys“, but that’s alright, sometimes it’s okay to wear our influences on our sleeve, and after all, Ennis’ sleazy superhero idea wasn’t Ennis’ to begin with, and yes, there’s a touch of Miller’s Dark Knight about this, especially in the Dark Justice character….. but Mclean is definitely, at this point anyway, playing this one for all the dark laughs he possibly can, which means it’s a stream of wanton death and destruction, sleazy shock violence played for laughs.
Likewise there’s influences a plenty in the art, again not a bad thing, as he’s (presumably) young and starting out, just like Mclean. Bit of Darrow, dash of Pope, huge amounts of Darick Robertson.
All in all, No More Heroes Issue 2 proved to be a big improvement upon the first issue purely from the technical, readability and depth side of things. It had much more meat on its bones, and consequently began to convey the idea that Mclean does have a story to tell, and can, once settled into it, tell it with fair style.
Your enjoyment of the whole thing may well depend on how much you get what Mcleod is doing here, and to be honest it’s something that I used to find much funnier than I do now, but purely from a technical point of view, a craft viewpoint, as an example of this sort of thing, it’s a good one, and so much better than the first issue.
No More Heroes is available from the No More Heroes website, and personally, if you get chance, I’d go for the double issue where Mclean has put issues 1 and 2 together in one comic – a great solution.