Filed under: Comic Reviews, Indie Comics | Tags: CaioOliviera, Glasgow, GordonMcLean, Small Press
I reviewed issue #1 of Gordon McLean’s No More Heroes a few months back – and it kicked ass, but now issue #2 is here and guess what? It kicks even more ass. If there’s one indie title you should be reading, it’s this (ok so maybe this AND The Standard - treat yourself!). It’s not very often that I await the release of a specific small press book, resigning myself more to an “if and when” scenario, but at this year’s Kapow! this book was top of my list to pick up.
And I’m pleased to say that issue #1 wasn’t a fluke – the creative partnership of Gordon McLean and Caio Oliviera is one that works, each proving how talented they are in this title. I was really pleased to see that everything that worked well in the first issue remained in number two, while at the same time ramping up the plot and fleshing out the backstory. What was great last time round was Gordon’s direct and simplistic approach to the story, focusing on our lead character and not getting too bogged down in the detail of the superheroes of the world and by doing so, it means that issue #2 can really start to expand on the backstory.
What I enjoyed most about this issue was it’s structure, something that’s probably not considered much when reading a comic, but so long as it’s being done well, you probably won’t notice it. Examples of how not to do this can be seen in some of the recent issues of Batwoman, with each scene constantly jumping backwards through time, with a “1 week earlier…” note each time, destroying the storytelling and confusing the hell out of me. However, with No More Heroes, even though the story’s not just simply moving forward, it’s handled exceptionally, using flashbacks to both tie in with the events in the present and help give us a better idea of the characters’ back stories. It’s clear that Gordon has done his planning, using issue #1 to establish the heroes, and issue #2 to introduce the bad guys.
The enemies are the real stars of this issue – with most of the action taking place in some seedy bar for villains and henchmen, where we’re treated to a look at the kind of bad guys on offer in this book – and it’s a real horror show! For me, the best bad guys in comics are the simplest ones, the ones who don’t need any explanation, they just look hardcore – and the main villain in NMH, Jack Slaughter, is just that. The white-masked, mute, psychopath with a penchant for blowing up arctic animals at the zoo is both creepy and insane, clearly coming from one of the many dark corners of Gordon’s brain. This guy’s so scary even the other bad guys don’t want to deal with him, but unlucky for our unwitting protagonist Sid, he needs to get close to Jack in order to help avenge the superhero, Dark Justice, he supposedly helped kill by answering a text message asking sking ‘Should I kill myself?’ with the answer ‘YES’.
As with the first issue, the art from Caio is top quality stuff, helping elevate the whole book from feeling like an indie to a proper monthly title. Similar to the writing style, the idea of keeping it simple is mirrored in the art too – classic layouts and panels are used throughout, again enhancing the the professional comic look and feel. The comic remains, as it should, in black and white. It’s sometimes more difficult with monochrome comics to keep up with the storytelling, with the lack of colour directions to help you recognise character and locations, but thankfully Caio’s art works so well it doesn’t need it, with well thought-out designs and layouts, you’re never confused about character, location or even what part of the timeline it is.
Overall, you can’t go wrong with No More Heroes. It’s a book that’s started to get a lot of attention and rightly so. You’re sure to find Gordon at one of the many comic marts/cons in and around Glasgow, but if you can’t make it that far, you can always buy the comics online from his website. If you missed issue #1, then there’s also a bumper version with #1 & #2 as one.
Craig – @hastiecraig
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