Need for speed

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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

We’re not sure Detroit ac­tu­ally has that much gold left.

Bernie Ec­cle­stone’s lat­est idea to make F1 ex­cit­ing re­vealed.

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