In the grand scheme of things I’ve never given much of a toss about the Project Superpowers series because I’m at the stage where reading most current superhero comics is like being hammered over the head by a smug, loud arsehole at a bar somewhere horrible while explosions happen all the time in the background. This though is written by Warren Ellis, a writer capable of some extraordinary work when he’s on full form but for some reason isn’t quite as successful as Alan Moore, Grant Morrison or even Mark Millar, a writer he’s far, far superior to. He’s in the tier of British writers that just get on with it and in doing so he does stuff like this; a perfectly fine superhero comic that really isn’t a superhero comic.
The story starts in the North West of the USA and a mysterious man is about to kill himself by self-immolation but all is not as it seems.
It’s a creepy, scary opening to a superhero comic that feels more like Twin Peaks or The X Files for much of it as the investigation by the FBI into the death gets underway, an d this is a good thing. Rather than rush into men in tights hitting each other, Ellis isn’t just establishing the mystery of the opening death, but establishing mood and characters in ways we’re not expecting such as having the superhero American Spirit identified as a serial killer early on.
We’re then introduced to ‘Rob Bention’ a man on the witness protection scheme hiding in the town of Blackcross that meets his FBI contact to discuss how things are, and ‘Rob’ (real name, Bob Stewart) mentions mysterious emails he’s been receiving.
This is a fine supernatural horror comic from Ellis that’s nicely drawn by Colton Warley. The characters feel right, the dialogue isn’t cliche and things are mysterious enough for me to want to pick up the next issues to get to the answers Ellis isn’t going to easily provide. It’s highly enjoyable though it’s not exactly doing anything new, it’s telling a story in a gripping way and that’s what Ellis does best. He’s a great storyteller and this is a good start to this promising series.