Story by Warren Ellis. Art by Juan Jose Ryp. Published by Avatar Comics.
I think I criticized a book of stories for being essentially about nothing, or nothing much. I actually find that to be the case about a lot of the books that high brow, anti genre comic critics (mostly the comics journal) tend to find so involving. I’ve always thought that the science fictional, underwear pervert obsessed comics by talented brits like Alan Moore or Warren Ellis, while perhaps grounded in iconic juvenilia, were about The Important Things or at least More Important Things than what Adrian Tomine writes about.
As an example of this: One of the best superhero comics ever written is “Black Summer” by Warren Ellis. You can buy it as a collection or collect them at your comic book shop like I did or even watch it on Youtube, where I implore Warren to let it stay up there. I think the music is mostly bad so I turn off the volume and read.
Issue “0” starts with the most powerful super hero in the planet killing the president and his entire team. This was written right about the time the Bush administration was ending. There is someone that looks suspiciously like Cheney amongst the blood strewn bodies if this wraparound cover is any indication. But you could make the argument that things haven’t really improved that much on the war crime front under the Obama administration. People have.
Anyway, Horus makes a very valid argument that the president broke the law and rigged the elections and therefore deserved his bloody end. Then all Hell breaks loose as they say. Horus is part of a group called “The Seven Guns”, originally started in order to fight private security forces and local gangs. Not so science fictional. It then becomes the Government versus the Justice League (to the death), which makes for a thrilling comic book experience I tell you.
It’s hard to describe just how many things that Warren Ellis gets right with the writing. It’s well plotted. You get the same feeling reading this as when you watch Avatar: It just gets better as it goes along. It feels like what could be a really good comic book movie and it has been optioned, although early reports show that there won’t be any presidential assassinations, which would make it probably suck but we’ll see. Changing key plot points is what doomed the film version of “Wanted”.
I also think he gets the speculation right as to what kind of people would want to wear the mask so to speak. His theory is that you should look at science types who were into body modding. That makes a lot of sense. He also seems to imply that you might have to make a sacrifice or two to be superhuman, at least several uncomfortable surgeries and so forth. Ellis makes this kind of argument again in another of his hero books called “No Hero”, really disturbing read by the way. (Short review of “No Hero”: Governments can’t stand superheroes or even Julian Assange.)
Overall, just a stunning read. In fact, Ellis’ hero trilogy which includes “Black Summer”, “No Hero” and “Supergod”, answers that Watchmen question very well or that question of “Whatever it is you super people do.” 4.8 stars because the art isn’t perfect, but Ellis seems to pick his artists based on their capacity for illustrating violence. Sure, P. Craig Russell is a better artist than Juan Jose Ryp but my guess is that he just can’t draw somebody blowing a big hole clean through someone or he would make it too pretty. With this art you can feel the bones and the blood in the panels. Hard to put down. And: There Will Be Blood.
Here’s the second issue. I dare you not read the whole thing. No, I double dares you.
Warren Ellis Website (Arguably the best blog put out by a comic creator.)