If you’re a fan of superhero comics, you really need to read this series from BOOM! Studios. In fact, if you’re aware in passing of superhero comics, you really need to read this series. Mike Carey and Elena Casagrande create a world where superpowers are bought and sold, and where superheroes keep dying, leaving regular law enforcement to try to contend with increasing numbers of super villains. Officer Leo Winters decides to get in on the super-powered action to take some sweet vigilante justice out on the villains who crippled his partner.
The protagonist is the kind of badass-but-sensitive white guy we expect from superhero comics these days, but the support cast is quite diverse after only four issues – we’ve got a handful of ladies, people of colour, and a non-stereotypical queer couple. The series is even drawn by a woman, so if representation is the kind of thing that piques your interest, this series should be up your alley.
Mike Carey is a great writer, his dialogue natural and relatable, and Elena Casagrande’s character designs nd facial expressions are generally great. She doesn’t suffer from the “same face” syndrome you see in a lot of superhero art (especially from the Big Two), so different characters actually look like different people. Andrew Elder’s colours add depth to Casagrande’s art, and you can sometimes catch pop-art influence on page layouts and colour choices. Add Ed Dukeshire’s solid lettering and you’ve got all-around a very satisfying comic.
The first three issues of the series were set-up, with Leo gaining powers and tracking down the five villains who were involved in the attack that nearly killed his partner, John Ha. Other than some surreal dreams Leo experiences after gaining powers, the series was really grounded in a version of our world if superpowers were suddenly introduced for sale. This issue opens the world to some mystical history, with villain Diva bringing Leo to a temple she constructed to the goddess who gives Diva her powers. Diva mentions a debt that Leo owes this goddess, and claims that she’d like Leo (or “Requiem,” as she continually calls him), to act as the goddess’s avatar of destruction – and commands Leo to sacrifice his father-in-law.
While speaking to Diva, Leo experiences visions of another woman who worshiped this goddess, and about whom he’s been having dreams. In these memories Leo (Requiem?) is a dangerous warrior, feared for good reason. In the present time, Leo dismisses these memories as the effects of a super villain with mild telepathy called Dr. Maybe, who alerted Diva to Leo’s presence. But it’s pretty clear that something more is going on here, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where all of this is going.
This issue leaves more questions than it does answers, but that’s part of the fun. The next issue promises to focus on someone other than Leo, so hopefully the world will continue to expand in surprising ways. The series is well executed from all parties involved, and with an interesting cast of characters and intriguing world-building, it’s definitely a series to watch out for.