“I think the garbage cans and toilet brush are a nice touch…”
After the bad experience I had with Jenna Jamesonâ€™s Shadow Hunter, I was a little hesitant to review yet another new title from Virgin Comics. But not everything from Virgin is bad. The companyâ€™s Dan Dare series is actually quite good. So with two titles on opposite ends of the spectrum weighing in, I sat down to read The Megas by Jonathan Mostow and John Harrison, wondering where it would fall on the scale of good to bad.
The Megas is part of Virgin Comics Directorâ€™s Cut series; titles created by some of the hottest names in the film industry like Jonathan Mostrow, director o U-571 and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
The premise of The Megas is set up like the old What If…? titles. In this case it is, â€œWhat if the United States was not formed as a democracy, but instead were an aristocracy that has held strong for over 300 years?â€ The aristocracy in this case are the Clan Megas, powerful men and women who, during the renaissance, were responsible for the great leaps in sciences, arts, technology – pretty much everything that turned the world away from the dark ages. There are also implications the Megas might be magical in some way, and to escape prosecution, the clan fled to America to keep the aristocracy alive.
How do you spot a Mega? No matter they age, they have silvery white hair from head to toe. While the look works for the older Megas, including the king, it looks really odd on the young royals. Of course it makes it easy to spot them, and would probably make them easy targets should someone want to take a group of them out, but hey, thatâ€™s the cost of being one of the uber-elite of the land.
The world of The Megas is one thatâ€™s not too different from what we already have; the U.S. appears to be an exact copy of what we have today – the haves (the Megas) and the have nots (the common folk) who lead their lives like you and me. As weâ€™ve seen time and time again, in order for a system to work, there needs to be rules and regulations. But who polices the royals? That job falls on the shoulders of the Bureau of Royal Investigations. Anytime a crime is committed involving a member of the Megas, this police force steps in and has jurisdiction over local police.
And this is how we meet Jack Madison, a member of the BRI whoâ€™s been called to the home of Prince Ellington Boudreaux to investigate a murder. This is not your average murder, the Prince has committed suicide, but not before he tortured and murdered four prostitutes he was engaged with in his locked bedroom.
We are also introduced to the Lord Chief Justice, who has jurisdiction over Jack and all members of the BRI, and the dying king. This murder couldnâ€™t have come at a worse time for the Mega clan, as not only is there a scandal that will need to be handled delicately, but there is also going to be a change in power, one that hasnâ€™t happened in a long time.
There are other interesting relationship developments that are unveiled as this first issue opens, including the mentor relationship between Jack and the Lord High Justice that occurs when Jackâ€™s father was killed in the line of duty.
I canâ€™t help but compare the Megas to any number of political thriller movies we have seen released over the last couple of years. Themes from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Absolute Power, In the Line of Duty, and to a lesser extent The Skulls and Michael Clayton all appear in this issue, which means as Jack continues to investigate the murder/suicide heâ€™s going to make discoveries that could topple the entire balance of power.
Predictions? If I were going to put money down now, I would put the Lord High Justice as the big bad with the series ending on the top of a tall building. Just a hunch, but if a director is writing this book, and heâ€™s been inspired by the above movies at all, then all signs point in this direction.
The art by Peter Rubin is really good; especially the landscape shots that let us know we are definitely in Washington D.C., but with the subtle twist that show the influence of having a royal family in command. The thing that is most disconcerting is the white hair of the Megas. Instead of seeing a stray strand here and there, the artist has made the hair devoid of all color; pure white with the subtle hint of a radiant glow around the royals. This is a nice effect, and gives credence to the theory that the Megas might have some mystical power.
The story is paced very well and is the typical setup for act one. The dialogue flows smoothly and there werenâ€™t any points where I didnâ€™t believe the words coming from the characters werenâ€™t their own.
The only time I really get into political thrillers is when they are written very well, with a plot and characters I can relate to, and an art direction style that is engaging. The Megas from Virgin Comics has all this and more, and Iâ€™m very interested in seeing what plays out as the story progresses.
Iâ€™m going to give The Megas 4 out of 5 Stars, mainly because the central plot appears to be a rehash of other movies, but movies that I like.