Written by Marc Guggenheim & Tara Butters and drawn by Ryan Bodenheim
Published by Image Comics
What happens when the super heroes win? What happens when there is no crime to fight or injustice to battle? Halcyon is the super hero team of this world and this is the story of what they do when there are no bad guys to overcome anymore.
There have been many attempts at creating more realistic looks at superheroes (if realism is a word that can be ever applied to people who can fly) most of which have been grim, gritty and soulless. Halcyon is a smart and different take on things and I had a wicked time reading it.
I am always keen on seeing new iterations of classic comic characters. Here we have a speedster, a talking-ape/super-genius, a super soldier fighting in Afghanistan and a female Superman who is sleeping with the ruthless, unpowered vigilante. And there are also plenty of other characters that we only get to meet briefly. I would like to read more about some of these. Particularly an Indian Fire god and a cyborg/Ghost in the Machine type called Null. I don’t want to explain too much because I took great joy in meeting these characters. It’s like meeting a new friend and just knowing right away that you will get along.
This is not just a dumbed down Watchmen clone, although it is open about that classic book’s influence. It takes a closer than usual look at the fractured psyches of these archetypes and what happens to their often fragile egos when they aren’t needed anymore.
Guggenheim and Butters create a real sense of shared history for their characters and the world they inhabit and manage to establish things quickly and succinctly. They keep the focus tightly on the main characters while allowing glimpses of the rest of the world.
The character design of all these guys is wickedly good. Bodenheim has a clean, focused art style that works really well for new characters. Everything is easy to discern and he did a great job of coming up with new and interesting looking superheroes, a tough task in this crowded field. The design is evocative yet not derivative.
I try to appreciate good lettering because when it’s done well it can add so much to the comic. Here they do a bang up job of adding layers to the story and giving a depth that we can only get in comics. When characters speak in Arabic the text is English but in a curling Arabian type script to show the accent. It looks lovely.
Another favourite is the labeling of the Heroes and Villains. They each get their own title panel when they are introduced. There is a brief synopsis of their powers and their code-names are in their own unique fonts that are suggest their powers or personality. This does lead to my only real complaint with the book, this isn’t done completely enough, there are instances where characters aren’t labelled and powers aren’t given. I think if you are going to do it, then go all in.
The ending has a great, cyclical twist to that I loved. The story is tied up while allowing both scope for more and leaving room for your imagination to fill in the blanks. Very nicely done.
Should I buy it? If you like your superhero stories filtered through a darker lens this is a good example of the style done well. Sure it’s no Watchmen but it is not trying to be. It’s well written and drawn, was fun to read and left me thinking when I turned that final page. There’s not much more I can ask of the comics than that.
Next time: Exciting times ahead as I start to blog at Inter-Comics and I will be getting the ball rolling with a review of Godzilla: The Half Century War by the One-Man Comic-Army that is James Stokoe.