“Luthor’s Monsters” (part 1)
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Max Fiumara
Publisher: DC Comics
At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s, Lex Luthor committed what I still think was one of the greatest evil acts in all of comics. He “turned off” the very super-powers he had bestowed upon numerous young people aspiring to be superheroes, killing many of them in the process. The “Everyman Project” was one of my favorite storylines of 52. I thought it was extremely well done and offered an evil version of the Initiative. But there were survivors of the Everyman Project, most notably Natasha Irons, the young woman who desires to follow in the footsteps of her uncle, John Henry Irons a.k.a. Steel. Peter Milligan steps in to tackle yet another group of different heroes. I have high hopes for this series as the “strange super-group” is kind of Milligan’s shtick. My only question is where does Infinity Inc. fit in the overall direction of the DCU? I would also like to note that this is another title to spin out of 52, a series whose success has been amplified with the stable of so-far-so-good titles that have birthed from it.
Peter Milligan definitely starts this series off on the right foot focusing on four (five if you count Steel) of the surviving members of the 52 storyline. While Steel serves as an “investigative counselor,” the four former members of Infinity Inc. are dealing with adverse side effects resulting from their loss of super-powers. Natasha suffers nightmares and hallucinations, Erik Storn (a.k.a. Fury) has developed a stuttering problem, and Gerome McKenna suffers from the strangest case of narcissism I have ever seen. Milligan explores each one of these characters very concisely and very well in the span of 22 pages. The slow pace to this issue gives Milligan the time to explore enough of the characters to draw readers in, and leaves enough to keep readers coming back.
One character of the former Everyman Project that suffers a much darker side effect is a young man named Dale. I don’t remember Dale from 52, but the abilities he possesses are unique and should provide a serious threat for the new Infinity Inc. The young man can’t seem to find his happy place and is sent to therapists all over Metropolis to try and heal his current state of mind. He simply suffers from “angst, dread and anguish” and can suck the life force from other people. It’s an interesting concept and the character’s personality definitely fits the bill for this type of power. He’s a poster child for depressed teenagers and his anti-depressant comes in the form of feeding off of the happiness of other people. I will say that Milligan has introduced a great character that has excellent potential and I hope he becomes more and more dangerous as he encounters certain heroes.
One of my favorite parts of this issue comes in the form of Gerome McKenna, a.k.a. Nuklon. He’s at a therapist’s, discussing his obsession with looking at himself. At first I wasn’t totally sure what to expect, the extreme narcissism kind of bothered me, but the reason for this narcissism blew me away. I couldn’t help but laugh at the explanation. It is one of those things that is both a blessing and a curse with which Milligan manages to effectively create the “inner” conflict with this character.
Milligan has done a great job with this issue and the characters involved. While Nuklon’s situation is quite comedic, the developments with Natasha are actually quite weird. I am really interested to see the cause of these side effects and what they mean for the coming super-team. Milligan has hit all the right chords for an opening issue of an otherwise obscure idea. All the elements of this issue fall perfectly into place; the character relationships, the drama, the mystery, suspense, humor and edginess that one could expect.
Max Fiumara’s artwork is decent; it’s not my personal favorite bur he manages to match up with Milligan’s style very well. There are times where I felt the inks were a bit too heavy and the blend of inks and colors took away from certain panels. However, Fiumara keeps faces looking consistent and draws some beautiful images, such as Dale after he has taken someone’s life force.
Overall, this is a great start to what could be a promising series. Milligan has introduced some great characters and may have found his perfect spot in the current DCU. Personally, this is the type of post-Infinite Crisis, post-52 story I’ve been waiting for DC to release. This is new and fresh, there’s no counting down and there’s some great character development going on in this issue.
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