Hmm. I’m not sure what to make of this. Can anyone remember the last time that DC published a non-DCU title under the simple “DC” banner? I’m sure it probably has happened since, but the last one I can recall is Watchmen. It just seems strange that an entirely non-universe, creator-owned title (and The Mighty certainly is that – its entire conceit hinges around there only being one superhero in the world) should even go so far as to have a “DC Nation” page in the back, rather than being shunted to one of the myriad imprints that it might have seemed better-suited to (in particular, it feels like a Wildstorm book more than anything).
Anyway, as a new #1, with some reliable if hardly A-list names (Peter J. Tomasi of Green Lantern Corps, and artist-turned-writer Keith Champagne of, er, Countdown : Arena) on the writing front, and the excellent Peter Snejbjerg on art duties, this looked worth checking out, so check it out I duly did. And… it’s not bad. There are perhaps elements of a few too many different things in its genetic makeup – from Watchmen to Powers to Top Ten and so on – but the idea of a police force constructed around a single superhero is quite a neat one, and when the book suddenly turns into a murder mystery, there’s the seed of something intriguing (it’s only to be hoped that the obvious answer, suggested by an ominous final page, doesn’t turn out to be the actual one, because it’ll be incredibly lame if so). The lead character is a sympathetic one, and his relationship with his wife well-drawn – and there’s what seems like a deliberate stylistic choice in never having Alpha One speak on-panel, distancing him somewhat from the “regular” characters and giving an “all is not as it seems” hint to their situation.
What really sells this, though – quite literally, it’s what caused me to buy it – is Snejbjerg. He’s not someone I usually expect to see on superhero books – even though he was thoroughly magnificent on the “Grand Guignol” arc in particular during his time on Starman – but he copes with the occasional moment of “superheroness” well here – particularly a lovely shot of Alpha One carrying a train carriage through the night sky. The rest of the book plays to his strengths more, though, with some typically great character work and expression, and it flows well thanks to his natural storytelling ability.
It’s not an absolutely mind-blowing issue, and if I’m honest, I can’t see it – with its market position, subject matter and lack of mega creator names – doing much business. But it’s a decent start to a series with a good hook and premise, and shows more promise than just about anything Champagne in particular has been involved with as a writer up to this point. It does at least purport to do something a bit different, and that – coupled with a chance to see work from one of comics’ most underrated and underused artistic talents – makes it worthy of some attention.