"Here, right now...this is how it goes down! This is our last stand! The true test!" - The Soldier American
Astonishman, the greatest of the ten surviving superheroes on Earth is dead and the hammer of Thor is now in the hands of The End League's greatest enemy. Is all hope lost? Is this post-apocalyptic Earth reaching the final chapter in the story of humanity?
I don't know the answer, which is a good thing. Rick Remender (Fear Agent) and Mat Broome (WildCATs, Batman) have introduced us to an interesting world that is vaguely similar, yet so different.
In this issue things go from bad to worse. Mother Hive has a vision of the entire team dying in one month, Arachnakid and Grimwood are possibly killed, Black and The Smiling Man have a chat about the hammer and their grim past, and Blur is seriously injured.
Things look really grim for these few remaining heroes on an Earth where evil reigns supreme. But, like true heroes, they fight on.
I love the concept of this series and I can't wait to see where it is going. Apparently if things do end, they don't end for a while because Remender has plotted out the series for about thirty-five issues.
The artwork by Broome does a great job capturing the feel of the story. I love the amount of detail that Broome puts into his work, and the strong inking and coloring give the book a great sleek, energetic look.
I love how Remender takes classic archetype heroes and rebuilds them into his own unique take. Most people only do that with DC characters, but the End League is a mix of DC and Marvel archetypes: Astonishman (Superman), Divinity (Wonder Woman), Black (Batman), Soldier American (Captain America), the Prairie Ghost (Ghost Rider), etc. My favorite so far is the Prairie Ghost.
We are introduced to a world with characters that already feel established. Each one feels like they have years of comic book issue history. This is one of the books greatest strengths, but it may also be its greatest weakness. I sometimes feel overwhelmed with all the characters and confused as to who is who. But that fades with each issue as I learn more about each of these characters and what makes them different from the archetypes they come from.
Dark Horse is well known for its great licensed books: Star Wars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Conan. But, Dark Horse is quickly becoming a leader in quality original titles with books like The End League, Hellboy, and The Umbrella Academy.
Final Word: A dark and epic story that has me hooked. Things look hopeless in this bleak setting, but just like the heroes in this book I can't give up on seeing what happens next.
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