Review: 'Suicide Risk' vol. 1 is doing what a non-Big Two superhero comic should -- take chancesA comic review article by: Jamil Scalese
No one would blame you if haven't noticed Suicide Risk. On the surface it's a fairly nondescript superhero comic amongst a parade of its own kin. The writer is a guy you've heard of, possibly even like, because he's been around for ages. The artist is the standard up-and-comer, a creator with talent but justifiably unseen in a forest of fast risers.
Really though, that describes like half of all comics available at your LCS. Hell, that description is accurate for about 90% of BOOM! Studio's non-franchised comics. It is what it is. The market doesn't lie, superheroes reign, and buyers will toss out dollars for brand name writers and serviceable art from capable artists.
Suicide Risk starts out with a compelling, though fairly ordinary premise. Everyman cop Leo Winters operates in a world of superpowers and high stakes. When his partner is severely maimed by a gang of ruthless villains he tracks down a pair of low level thugs in possession of a magic wand capable of granting abilities. Leo's new set of skills are purposely ill-defined, seemingly gravity based, but perhaps more accurately described as "Newtonian". That is, there is a real action/reaction vibe to his powers, with every use resulting a in physical consequence, like a nose bleed or a cave-in.
Family is very important to Leo, the father of three children and husband to a standard model loving-but-challenging wife. He's motivated by his want for revenge, but he questions his decision to take on superpowers, something that brings with it great harm (particularly with that "recoil" effect). That need to bring foes to justice and the worry about his choices are what ties the first few issues together, and it's satisfactory work by the capable Mr. Carey.
I'll be candid, for about three and half issues I had almost no affinity for the story. The weird stray from the "cover premise" bothered me, and an inexplicably narrow focus felt like a misuse of time. Well, sorry creators of this comic, Jamil hath doubted thee.
Issue four is a mythology drop that spins the entire premise around six times on a baseball bat and forcibly pushes it off into whatever direction it's facing. I feel like a lot of my peer critics would label the world of this work as wrought with depth or something, but as mentioned, it's a very focused story, working just around Leo and his experience. Carey refrains from detailing the mechanics of the larger super powered setting. There are hints of the nature of the world, but just hints. Only one hero shows his face, the horribly named "Extended Remix", and he's dispatched in the first few pages. When we get to the fourth issue it's apparent why this viewpoint has been so slim, and it lifts the book above the "cover premise". I bet some people are annoyed this isn't solely a story about cop in a world with capes, but far greater should be ecstatic it's more. And really, it's both as Leo's home life collides with his new superhero life at the conclusion of this trade.
The art work helps impart the neat and trim style of the script. Italian artist Elena Casagrande has a style that reminds me a little of Marc Laming, very straightforward, at least in the quiet parts. The pencils flex in the more superheroic areas, particularly when it comes to the dangerous and possibly insane villains. Action is a strength but this is a series that's surprisingly low on it. In terms of critiques: the work rarely wowed me or caused me to pause. The layouts were quite vanilla and who knows if that's part of the overall desired effect, but more diversity would help. Another part lacking is character variety. A lot of the male characters skew toward the same facial structures with only skin and hair color really setting them apart. Leo has a grown daughter who appears to be in her teens and the guy looks like he's only a decade her senior.
I labored through bits of Suicide Risk. Like the part where Leo's other daughter explains some bit of simple science to her dad. Or the weird aside with Leo's gay brother and his lover. Or the really bad aliases like Grudge War or Dr. Maybe. Then, with a twist on perception, and a new set of rules for the main character, it suddenly got very good because of all the "cover premise" set up.
The fourth issue got me so riled up that I immediately read the next two issues and they are of equal merit, expanding incrementally on the established saga. It's doing what a non-Big Two superhero comic should -- take chances. Carey and Casagrande have a gripping foundation for Suicide Risk with a tale mired in parts familiar and strange. As the story opens up I look for this to blip on more radars, as it should yours.
Jamil Scalese is just like you -- an avid comics reader and lover of sequential art. Residing in Pittsburgh, PA, he is an unapologetic Deadpool fan, devotee of the Food Network and proud member of Steelers Nation. Check out his original, ongoing webcomic And Then There Were Zombies and follow his subpar tweeting at @jamilscalese.