Need for speed
Release Date: OUT NOW!
$ 2.99 | Publisher: Image Comics Writer: Mark Millar Artist: Duncan Fegredo
Love him or loathe him, there’s no stopping Mark Millar at the moment. Barely has one comics project or movie adaptation kicked off than there’s another waiting in the wings. so there’s something oddly fitting about such a prolific writer tackling the idea of unstoppable super- speedsters.
MPH is Millar’s latest creatorowned miniseries from Image Comics, and its story begins in the once prosperous, now financially bankrupt city of Detroit, where small- time criminal Roscoe Rodriguez ends up imprisoned and sold out by his bosses. Stuck in jail, he turns to drugs – but the first one he tries is a mystery narcotic called MPH, which features some incredible side effects.
Each MPH tablet gives Roscoe the ability to move at impossible velocities, and after using his enhanced speed to escape jail, he teams up with his friends to use the drug on a crime spree against the bankers that wrecked Detroit’s economy. However, the US government is soon on the trail of Roscoe, and they have a superspeedster of their own…
The natural heir to Stan Lee’s brand of bombastic, attentiongrabbing storytelling, Millar could never be accused of subtlety, and MPH is as broad- strokes as mainstream comic books get nowadays. The first three issues are slickly executed and pacey, showcasing Millar’s deft touch with imaginative action sequences and his fine eye for memorable visuals – it’s just a pity they also feel like the kind of Hollywood blockbuster where the story beats are all too predictable.
The basic high concept is compelling, but while Millar has been pulling off genuine political themes in Jupiter’s Legacy, the attempt at social comment in MPH feels much thinner, as if he’s just scribbled down notes after binge- watching The Wire. He also doesn’t succeed in making us care much about the characters, with a cast of downtrodden heroes that rarely feel three- dimensional or make much impression.
What lifts MPH above these flaws is the excellent work from regular Hellboy artist Duncan Fegredo, who here employs a much tighter and more controlled style reminiscent of previous Millar collaborator Bryan Hitch. Each page is packed full of impressive detail that’s enhanced by the grounded colours from Peter Doherty, while the super- speed sequences pull off a number of moments that take full advantage of the wonderful anything- can- happen nature of comic book storytelling.
MPH may be free of the obnoxious button- pushing “extreme content” of previous Millar stories such as Nemesis, but it also doesn’t achieve the energy and sharpness of his better work like Starlight or The Ultimates. Already optioned for a film, it could soon be joining the likes of Kick- Ass and Wanted on screen, but right now this superpowered crime romp simply doesn’t feel distinctive or essential enough. Saxon Bullock
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