Written by: Ron Bricker
Well, the New Year in comics is certainly off to a quiet start. This week's pull list for me was pretty low key, and the highlight of my reading this time around came from a place I didn't quite expect. The most interesting books this week didn't come from the main DC or Marvel imprints, instead, the Dark Horse published debut issue of The End League took full hold of me.
The End League , written by Rick Remender and pencilled by at Mat Broome, is a look at a post-apocolyptic Earth in which evil reigns and the "magnificents" are but a hidden band of heroes that most think are a myth, doing their best to survive. I know we've seen it before – the classic superhero archetypes twisted and presented in a new light, providing commentary on the genre in books like Watchmen and The Authority. However, the route that Remender has taken here is perhaps even more cynical than the aforementioned titles; in the letters page at the end of the issue he explains his world view that humans are inherently selfish, and what would really happen if one in a thousand of these self serving humans suddenly were given the powers of a god?
That's where the twist of this book really lies: the heroes, it is explained, are responsible for the hellish world they are currently enduring. Even better, the small remainder of humanity that struggles to survive still see these men and women as heroes in their eyes, unaware of past sins. This type of setup has the strong potential to provide readers with endless drama and thought provoking social commentary. If every issue can stay on par with this first one, and continually build upon the themes Remender and Broome have set in place, we could be looking upon the next story to prove what the comic book format is capable of. But be warned: The End League is on a bi-monthly schedule, so that means a loooong wait in between issues.
The other highlight of this week is issue #4 of Vertigo's newer series The Vinyl Underground. This book follows a squad of undercover socialites that are really the UK's leading occult mystery solvers. The easiest way to describe it is sort of meets sex, drugs, and rock and roll. It's as intriguing as it sounds and this issue proves that creators Si Spencer and Simon Gane have plenty in store for us. The series thus far is fairly innocent of any over-the-top Vertigo-ness that the DC adult-brand likes to provide, but there are shades of something looming. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, sometimes it just feels as though Vertigo books can be too focused on burning the envelope, rather than pushing it.
In comparison to these two books, the standard fare of the DCU and Marvel U feel pretty tame. That's not to say it's not interesting, but when you have a book like The End League read back to back with the newest Countdown, the latter can feel a little void of any notable content. Countdown #17 continues last week's trend of chugging the story along, so things are still moving and show no signs of coming to a standstill until Final Crisis.