MINOR THREATS #1
It's hard out there for a supervillain. Not the world conquerors, chaos engines, or arch-nemeses . . . but the little guys. The ones who put on uniforms, knock over jewelry stores and get tied to poles. And things are about to get worse. The psychotic Stickman has murdered Kid Dusk, sidekick to Twilight City's premier crime-fighter, the Insomniac. The Insomniac's teammates are tearing Twilight apart, turning it into a police state--desperate to capture
Stickman and stop the Insomniac from crossing that final line which he may never come back from. Caught in the middle are the small-time c-list villains, finding it impossible to walk down the street without being harassed by these heroes. With a bounty on the Stickman's head, former villain Playtime decides to assemble a ragtag team of villains to take down the Stickman and kill him themselves.
Frankie Follis aka Playtime has been a supervillain her whole life, after all, it’s the family business but after a recent prison stretch Frankie’s given up on that life, and is trying to go straight and have a relationship with her own daughter. it’s tough for an ex-villain, especially a lower-tier one like Frankie. Blum and Oswalt do a fantastic job of showing life on the other side of the cape…the side with no shiny mansions or hidden lairs bristling with technology. No this isn’t that kinda story. There’s a bar though where c class villains hang out, bicker and make plans that go nowhere, Frankie works the bar. The whole issue runs the gamut of our central character’s life so far covering her rise and fall as a career C-list criminal as Blum and Oswalt paint the scene thanks to brilliant art from Hepburn and colorist Ian Herring.
There are all the familiar tropes of a good cape yarn, including things like a code among villains, ridiculous spandex outfits, etc. but it’s the laser-sharp focus on Frankie as the central character and her life as it stands, her relationships with family and her history and talent that is painted in such excellent detail that draws you in. Like any good cape story, the status quo gets disturbed when a villain kills a superheroes sidekick and all hell breaks loose as the C-listers find themselves under major scrutiny from the superhero cream of the crop who are suitably glib and as obnoxious as you would expect heroes to be from a villain’s viewpoint which is a deft touch from the writing side.
It’s a story in the best tradition of the underdog as well as a love letter to the silver and bronze era of comics. Blum and Oswalt capitalize on that idea by crafting a wholly believable world while putting their own spin on traditional superhero/villain tropes with a strong and entertaining script that is elevated by the art that accompanies it. It’s an extremely well-constructed opening salvo that makes you invest in its central protagonist from the word go with a perfect balance of fun, silliness, tragedy, and emotion.
Scott Hepburn and colorist Ian Herring are tasked with bringing this world to life and succeed admirably with a seamless blend of gritty and detailed line art that carry across the emotional range the script calls for with the bright colors of a world filled with superheroes and their nefarious counterparts. It’s such a great balance of fun and seriousness that constantly keeps the pace up and never lags. The character designs are colorful, bright, and vivid which is offset cleverly offset against the downtrodden scummy look of the environments the characters inhabit. The dual nature of caped villains and heroes is one of my favorite themes and one of the best things carried a cross in the art is the duality of Frankie’s world.
Hepburn and Herring show this off with paneling that jumps between Frankie’s reality and Frankie’s thinking and there’s always this sense that the two are at odds: reality and what she would do as Playtime contrast across numerous pages until at last her choice coalesces on the last page. It’s a wonderful superhero reality dialed up to 11 painted in the brightest colors of spandex with dirt kicked onto it. Nate Piekos rounds out the excellent presentation art-wise
with solid lettering that helps communicate the melodrama of this world filled with supers.
Minor Threats #1 boasts a truly excellent script that feels like a perfect love letter to the fun and silliness of classic costumed caper comics as well as the classic underdog trope. Yet it also manages to marry in great three-dimensional and believable character writing that brings its central character to life beautifully as you follow her journey. All of this is brought to life by an art style that flawlessly captures the colorful nature of the genre after rolling it around in the grime to show the viewpoint of the C-list villain. An outstanding first issue from the classic corner box art on the cover to the last page spread that speaks to the fun everyone involved had making it.
MINOR THREATS #1: Is Playtime Over?
- Writing - 10/1010/10
- Storyline - 10/1010/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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