An admirable first issue must, above all else, contain such matter as will compel a reader to buy the second issue. At the same time, while provoking curiosity through mysteriousness, a good first issue must avoid being so mysterious as to be cryptic or incomprehensible. And, thirdly, it should introduce the title’s principals, preferably in a way that makes us care about them. Fourth, a first issue should include a complete “episode”—that is, something should happen, a crisis of some kind, which is resolved by the end of the issue, without, at the same time, detracting from the cliffhanger aspect of the effort that will compel us to buy the next issue. A completed episode displays decisive action or attitude, telling us that the book’s creators can manage their medium.


Herokillers coverThe initiating premise in HeroKillers No.1 is that when crime-ridden Libertyville elected a new, fabulously wealthy mayor, hizzoner offered to pay superheroes fabulous amounts of money to rid the town of crime. The heroes soon outnumbered the criminals four-to-one, and crime was busted out of the city. Now the crime-free town has a lot of superheroes trundling around without crime to fight. So they pick fights with robots and compete among themselves for whatever rewards and fame are available.

In other words, the story, by Ryan Browne, mocks the conventions of superheroing, deploying some of yesterday’s unemployed superheroes — Captain Battle and Captain Battle Junior, the Boy King and his Magical Giant, and, most memorable to me, personally, and to the plot of this issue, Black Terror and his youthful sidekick, Tim. In the book’s first completed episode, Black Terror turns out to be an alcoholic egomaniac, eager to collect all the glory himself.

In the next completed episode, the sidekicks manage to crime-bust the evil Dr. Baron Von Physics, and then Black Terror shows up and shoves the youngsters away from the crime scene so he can get all the credit when the news media show up. At the last moment, however, Tim disintegrates his mentor, and he and his two companions, both sidekicks of other superheroes, fabricate a scenario to explain Black Terror’s seeming death.

This is a lot of fun, but I can’t tell where it’s going. Are the sidekicks now going to take over the world? That doesn’t seem sufficiently admirable, but, given the book’s title (“Hero Killers”), it seems entirely likely.

Pete Woods’ art is crisp and uncluttered, so uncluttered that there isn’t much in the way of background. The visuals are nearly antiseptic. But he’s a master of anatomy and facial expression and deploys page layout and panel composition to keep things lively. See the sample page we posted in the previous review. Still, despite my affection for Black Terror (a residual of my misspent youth, whiling away hours with funnybooks), I’m not likely to return to this title.


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