Young (Last of the Independents, Astronauts In Trouble)
and Brandon McKinney (Elfquest, Switchblade Honey)
have ousted Taylor and Fason as the collaborative team to
take a somewhat interesting idea involving superheroes and
completely fail to do anything with it. And the part that
stings is that both of these creators are supposed to be
some of small press’ better artists, not to mention
that I have liked their work before this debacle of three
learns anything. Everybody dies,” is the description
on the back of the graphic novel, and it is sadly accurate.
Young and McKinney have crafted a story…or at least
something that vaguely resembles a story’s distant
cousin, about… pretty much nothing.
book opens with some convoluted alternate history of Young’s
world where superheroes exist. This alternate history is
the first sign that this book is absolutely lacking in structure
and point: for some reason, Ben Franklin decided way back
that instead of the Eagle, America’s national bird
should be the raven, because it is a “bird of prey.”
I’m not entirely sure, but I think a raven is actually
a scavenger bird.
really matter, because the only reason that Young introduces
this bit of parallel history is to explain why one of his
characters, who is named Justice Hall, is dressed like a
bird. At no other point in the story does this alternate
history factor in and never is it mentioned again. It’s
shoehorned in for no reason other than to create a false
sense of plotting and back-story for one character. And
believe it or not, this one or two small bits of information
about that character is all that the reader receives. Way
to show you’re an in-depth writer Young.
other superheroes show up; the archetypes we might expect
are present with a Superman clone called The Grand, a Hulk-ing
monster called Schaff, and the Batman-esque Justice Hall.
The only almost-original character is Kastra, who has powers
of some sort, though what they are I do not know, but she’s
also dressed in a toga, so let’s just call her Wonder
Woman. They all gather in a city to watch Schaff randomly
and for no reason smash cars and steal children while the
fire department handles the wreckage. Then they go to their
space station, where something explodes and they end up
in a dam in an entirely different world where there are
no such things as superheroes. Schaff and Kastra drown and
Justice Hall and The Grand punch each other once each and
die. I wish to God that I was exaggerating.
is no functioning plot, no reason for the characters to
be there, and no real justification for killing the tree
to print this god-awful collection of dead characters and
invisible plot. There is nothing here to read and nothing
to interest the reader.
only reason I can fathom for Young, who is a decent if not
great writer, to concoct this non-narrative is some form
of comment on the superhero genre. Perhaps Young is stating
that the superhero genre has nothing to it anymore, that
it is “nothing” and not worthy of writing about.
This is not an invalid criticism as much of superhero comics
are bad comics that pander to the lowest common denominator
of the readership, but the way in which Young goes about
it shows him as incapable of really making the point.
in perhaps two instances of dialogue, to be sarcastic and
suggestive about superheroes and their actions, stating
that it is okay for Schaff to destroy the business district
and steal a baby because “He’s just a little
pissed off at the state of things. He’s got all this
power and can’t seem to harness it for long enough
to do anything with it.” It’s easy to see scenes
like this, where Young thinks he’s being clever, but
he drops these little bits of word balloon gold in out of
nowhere and never follows up with them. Highlight this with
the fact that this is one of the largest lines of dialogue
in the entire book and you can see the near pointlessness
of the writing. Panels will be silent for long stretches
of time, and while I can easily enjoy a silent comic, the
pauses that Young takes and McKinney draws, are simply panels
repeating the same images, for no seeming affect.
an eyebrow position changes, but the panels and story do
not move along so much as just shift to the next image.
There’s little progression within the text and you
could easily separate the book into two sections, read them
independently, and it would not affect the book.
artwork is fine, but paired with such a lifeless script,
he’s not working very hard to convey anything. Kastra
looks like a harem girl sketch taken from Elfquest
and the rest of his character designs are appallingly bad.
Justice Hall looks like a big bird suited guy. The Grand
is a bad rip of Superman in almost every respect, save for
his penchant for wearing hooker boots. McKinney also seems
to lack the ability to make any hand-to-hand combat look
exciting, because he has no eye for movement within his
panels. There is nothing interesting in this artwork, nothing
that pulls the reader in or makes it easier to comprehend
the story. The story and art could be separate and it really