REVIEW: Supercrooks #1

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Or – “It’s Easy To Forget That Crime Capers Are Committed By Criminals…”

Not so long ago, Mark Millar created “Wanted,” a story of high-level super-criminals and the man who wakes up to realize that he’s actually one of them.  I had been worried that this series would be too similar to that one, but Supercrooks actually surprised me with it’s take on the dark side of super-powers…

SUPERCROOKS #1
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Leinil Yu
Co-Plotter: Nacho Vigalondo
Inker: Gerry Alanguilan
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Editor: Nicole Boose
Publisher: Icon (Marvel Comics)
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Supercrooks:  It’s pronounced “Mill-ur”, just like Frank from the Dark Knight, no matter how the majority of fanboys pronounce it…

AIN’T NO REST FOR THE WICKED…

I’ll say this for Mark Millar, he knows how to open a story.  We being in media res, as a group of super-powered criminals make their escape after a robbery, entering the New York City subway system and giving me flashbacks to the horribly difficult and stupid bank robbery mission from Grand Theft Auto IV.  (I HATED that mission, not just because of it’s stupidity, but because if you failed, you had to start ALL OVER, gather Packie and his brothers and drive all the way across the stupid city again.)  Their flight is intercepted by a superhero called The Gladiator, who quickly and brutally takes down most of the gang.  Johnny Bolt, the last man standing, cries out “Get back!  I have electrical powers!” but the unimpressed hero punches him in the face hard enough to splinter teeth, snarling back “Do I LOOK like I give a $#!+?”  Heh…  Like any good action movie, thought, this shoot-out serves only as the pre-credits trailer, as we jump forward several years in time.  Millar does a really good job of setting up our premise here, giving us the basics of the world (think proto-Marvel Universe), a somewhat sympathetic view of the villains, and a nice action sequence in the space of a few panels.  The Gladiator’s design is particularly awesome, and Leinil Yu’s work avoids some of the pitfalls that bother me about his work.  (Most characters do have either black pits or a disturbingly pink and fleshy ring around their eyes, one of the things that was bothersome about his New Avengers work circa Civil War.)

…BUT STILL NO HONOR AMONG THIEVES.

The time-shift moves us forward, introducing a couple of new characters, including a washed up villain called “The Heat,” who quickly gets in far over his head with a bigger bunch of criminals.  We also meet Johnny Bolt’s fiancee (the striking blonde from the cover), who has gone straight since her man has been in the slammer.  All in all, you get the clear sense that these has-beens and never-weres are real characters, and the disappointment and resentment in the conversation between Johnny and Kasey (what’s with all the Casey/Kaseys in comics lately?) is quite awesome. The book comes across as part-trailer, part-Ocean’s 11, part scrappy romantic comedy and the ending, where Johnny falls upon the stroke of genius that he thinks will save his relationship and Carmine’s life, is a little bit by-the-numbers.  The personal interactions and well-handled art (even with weird eyes here and there) sell the book, and there’s at least enough sharpness in their hook to make me want to see what exactly it is that Johnny and company are about to try.

THE VERDICT: REMARKABLY HUMAN…

The plot here is a decent first act of a big ol’ Hollywood blockbuster, with both the good and bad aspects that would come with that.  Mark Millar reportedly sold the movie rights to this book before it was written, and this issue seems clearly written as the beginning of that movie script.  A lot of the plot, therefore, feels a bit familiar, especially to those who’ve seen the Ocean’s 11 series, but the presence of super-powers may possibly create a gestalt of differing tropes that makes it something new and different.  Supercrooks #1 hits a sweet spot when dealing with the super-villain main characters, but doesn’t quite overcome the sum of it’s parts, earning a nicely handled 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.  I’m very interested to see where this all goes, and wondering what’s up with the other colorful characters on the cover who don’t appear in this issue…

Rating: ★★★½☆