By Stephen Sutherland and Garry McLaughlin
So many comic writers and artists have that one interesting superhero story they’ve always fancied telling, and it always seems to have that twist in it.
So here’s a fairly standard superhero tale with a twist.
This isn’t to say there’s not room for this sort of story. Just that it’s become somewhat of a cliché. I don’t know, I’m possibly being too much of a grinch about this.
That’s the bad. The upside is that although it’s playing out a superhero cliché, it’s at least trying to do something interesting with the cliché; repositioning superhero culture to the modern, media frenzied, Claims Direct saturated nightmare world that is modern Britain.
It’s Glasgow 2010. Not the Glasgow we know. This is part of a world where superheroes coexist with the worst of sleazy red-top journalism and compensation culture. Put those together and you get a culture where the superheroes daren’t do anything out of the ordinary for fear of a sleazy tell all or a lengthy and expensive court appearance:
Into this whole mess comes Michael Robertson, who isn’t stupid, nor a millionaire thrill seeker. Instead he’s busy struggling to live the quiet life with girlfriend Rosie, whose just found out she’s living with a superhero. Well, a guy with superpowers, government monitored, job-seeking in a market where supertypes are practically unemployable, and living in fear of getting into some situation where he’s going to need to use his powers.
Michael’s no idiot, he knows what sort of venal, greed obsessed world he’s living in. He tries hard to avoid situations where he may be called upon to use his powers to help people.
You know, the sort of situation where there’s a guy trapped in a car and he happens to be flying over, gets noticed, and just can’t bring himself to ignore it.
Oh. Damn. Just like this one then:
Poor Michael. People are complete bastards at times aren’t they? Then again, given what we already have with our wonderful personal injury equals easy cash world, you’d have a tough job convincing me that Superman wouldn’t have to put up with this sort of rubbish daily.
Anyhow, that’s the first half of the comic. The second half I’ll leave you to explore should you wish. Suffice it to say, it’s all about Rosie trying to convince our boy that his life does have some superpowered advantage.
There are enough little things throughout Taking Flight to make it worth your time; the casual manner of jumping out the window to get to he job interview, the government satellites that knew he was “special” even before he did, the casual reasoning that makes so much sense; “a guy as tall as me with my build, suspicion falls on me anyway“, the relationship between Rosie and Michael dialogued rather well.
That sort of thing meant the relative familiarity of the storyline and concept was held at least at bay. The art by McLaughlin is alright. Nice in places, not so great in others. Nothing that set my teeth on edge, but little that had me sitting back and taking in the page either – the notable exceptions being the first flight we see of Michael, and that page of the car rescue I’ve included here. I’d have loved to have seen more of that throughout. As it is, there’s enough art on this review for you to judge for yourselves.
Thankfully Taking Flight is merely a one-shot. It starts, middles, and ends, albeit on a cliffhanger. In fact, it’s pretty much the same ending that the Wachowski’s did in The Matrix. Looking back, I wish they’d have finished that series there and then. Taking Flight gets it right. There’s no chance to mess up what ended up being short, sweet, entertaining enough, and if not original, at least an interesting spin on an old idea of outlaw superheroes.
You can get hold of copies of Taking Flight through the Laser Age Comics webstore.