Writer: Adam Cogan
Artists: Ryan Cody, Marlena Hall and Russ Lowery
Publisher: Viper Comics
Plot: When Nick Corrigan discovers that his aging upstairs neighbor is secretly Charles Cobb, the retired supervillain known as “Hardliner,” he blackmails Cobb into letting him use his old armor. Nick plans out his first big heist, but is double crossed by Cobb when Nick’s crime in progress is thwarted by the city’s patron hero, The Flying Ace.
Comments: Decompression is a concept foreign to Cogan’s Villains. The book moves at a brisk pace from plot complication to mega sized fights to underworld dealings, without missing a beat. Comics with the villains as the central characters are not new. Big name baddies such as DC’s Joker and Marvel’s Dr. Doom have headlined their own series in the past, and Mark Waid and Barry Kitson’s excellent Empire about an armored despot who controls most of the Earth comes to mind when the subject of villains starring in their own series is raised. What makes this book unique is its intimate glimpse into an underworld society of villains in a fictional setting where the superheroes are relegated to a supporting role in the narrative. Man, does it work quite nicely here!
Cobb is the crusty, conniving, double crossing son-of-a bitch you’d expect a seasoned villain to be and Corrigan is a compelling protagonist, brazen enough to realize he is playing with fire, but so fascinated by the layers of the secret society he tries to infiltrate, that he is willing to gamble his own hide to be a part of it.
Streaker resembles the Kingpin in the way in which he wields tremendous influence and power in his corner of the underworld in this issue, but he is also influenced by cinema mobsters and could easily be inserted into an episode of The Sopranos. Cogan writes his dialogue perfectly with the necessary mix of skepticism and wise guy sensibilities. You almost forget you are reading a superhero comic until Nick and Sam catch a glimpse of the “Mega Hero” streaking through the night sky. Cody’s choice for the artwork in the book is a good one, his style being abstract enough to complement Cogan’s story but not cartoony enough to diffuse the serious subject matter of murders, big time heists, and other criminal activities.
The coloring by Lowery helps in keeping with the semi-dark tone of the book, but he uses pastels and brighter hues in the slower paced, less frantic scenes. The back-up story which concludes the comic is as engaging as the main story but would work better as a whole rather than individual, continuing segments.
Final Word: At $3.25 by a smaller publisher like Viper, this series is likely to be less accessible to the masses, but good word of mouth and good reviews in Wizard and other publications will at least give it the opportunity to build a fan base, in case there are plans for an ongoing series.
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