No Hero #1 (Avatar Press): If you were to mix the induction elements of Millar’s Wanted and a more street level version of Ellis’ latest work from Avatar, Black Summer, you’d end up with something like No Hero. Instead of the political coup that Black Summer offered, No Hero relies on vigilantism and “true” justice’s ability to restore social order. I like the aspect of pondering whether someone’s motivation for change determines whether or not they can be considered heroic, but I’m not yet feeling enough differentiation between this book and Black Summer. To be more succinct, I think this book is good – just not fresh. Juan Jose Ryp’s art is as great as ever though, a fun blend of Frank Quitely and Geoff Darrow, helping the title clock in with a… Grade B.
Red Mass for Mars #2 (Image): I still don’t really know what the title of this book is, sometimes it’s A Red Mass for Mars, sometimes the “A” is omitted… In any case, I don’t really remember what’s going on in this series, perhaps due to the modus operandi of long delays between issues of any Jonathan Hickman project. Many of the individual scenes are quite interesting, but they all play as a conglomeration of different stories and disparate elements, and I remain unclear how (or is it if?) they will coalesce or connect. This is a bad position to put your readers in when your book is 50% completed. I know that there seems to be multiple Earths, I think it’s set after a series of cataclysmic events, there is an invading force, a gathering of powers, and something about a boy named Mars who is (assumably) the God of War. That is to say, I get the broad brushstrokes, but am completely lost on the details. I have no idea who’s who, what their motivations are, how one scene has any bearing on another, and what the commentary on war is driving for. There’s a brief bout of Warren Ellis inspired pseudo-science about a “black hole bomb” as a hail mary effort to thwart the invaders that was fun… umm, other than that all I can say is that Ryan Bodenheim’s art is thick, luscious, and beautiful; Marty Shelley’s color assists also really deserve a mention for their washed out, yet somehow still vivid feel. Despite as many misses or near hits as actual hits, I still believe that Jonathan Hickman is one of the most important new voices in the last five years and worth checking out. Grade B-.