"No Hero" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James "Spez" Ferguson
Published by Avatar Press
Originally published as No Hero #1 - 8
Written by Warren Ellis
Drawn by Juan Jose Ryp
2009, 192 pages
Trade paperback released on January 31st, 2010
How much do you want to be a super human? That's the question asked time and time again in Warren Ellis' No Hero. This isn't a Klondike Bar we're talking about. These are super powers. Flight. Super strength. The ability to shoot electricity from your fingertips. How far would you go? What would you do? Joshua Carver is about to find out.
No Hero is set in a world very much like our own, but in this one a man named Carrick Masterson changed everything in the sixties. He developed a drug called FX7 that's one part LSD and two parts of whatever kind of spooky crap you can find inside Warren Ellis' head. FX7 changes people. It gives them superhuman abilities, but it also changes them to be whatever they truly feel they are. If deep down you see yourself as Superman, then you'll come out of your FX7 trip with the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound and a spit curl in your hair. But what does it say about you if your skin melts and your genitalia falls off?
Masterson uses FX7 to make his own team of super heroes called the Front Line and sets out to right the world from his headquarters in San Francisco. Everything seems fine for forty years or so and then the Front Liners start to get taken out one by one. They're under attack and they don't know by whom. Fortunately they're able to snatch up Carver, a vigilante working on his own in Manhattan, in an effort to defend themselves, but things continue to spiral out of control.
The title "No Hero" is a perfect fit for this book. This is a superhero story where there are no boundaries. There's no great responsibility that came with great power here. These guys literally tear people apart and it is incredibly gruesome. Juan Jose Ryp's art is brutal and I mean that in a good way. I don't know for sure what it looks like when a man's spine is ripped from his body, but I think Ryp did a good job of capturing that and dozens of other gore-filled scenes featured in this book.
My only issue with the book is that I would have loved to have seen more about the past of Masterson's team. It's not really necessary for the purposes of this story, but I'm just curious to find out some of the details of their previous missions and how they built themselves up to be in the position they're in when the book starts out.
This series was originally published with a handful of variant covers. All of them (three per issue) are collected in this trade paperback, including the ones that are homages to classic comic book covers. That's about it when it comes to additional features, though.
No Hero is a book for comic book fans that hate capes and tights. Yes it's about superheroes, but these ones are merciless and cruel. What it is not is for the faint of heart. I'm not kidding about Ryp's pencils. Some of this stuff is going to haunt my dreams for the next couple weeks. The story is pure Warren Ellis and if you've read anything by him before then you have an idea of what you're getting into. It puts a real life spin on the superhero story and the consequences we might face by having them in the world and then what would happen if we started losing them.
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