Creator Owned Heroes #5 is the most important issue of the series thus far, as two all-new stories begin. From a sales standpoint it should tests the book’s viability. Will readers be back for more COH when there’s less connection to the previous issue? It’s a problem all anthology series face, and for Heroes that time is now. (I still think staggering the ending of the initial stories to different issues would have been the best move, but oh well.) Here’s the official description from Image:
“KILLSWITCH,” Part One
Part one of a brand new four-part story. Introducing Killswitch, an enigmatic, and devastatingly handsome killer with a fetish for blunt force, a strong code of honor, and more than a few skeletons in his closet. Killswitch is drawn into a game of death with the world’s top assassins to find out who is behind the contract on his head – and why.
“BLACK SPARROW,” Part One
A brand new two-part story begins, as a family living in the old west must reconcile that someone close to them might be a killer, or worse. A dark tale of haunting family dedication and the price we pay for love.
PLUS! An interview with AMANDA CONNER, art galleries, con photos, and original articles all celebrating the creator owned spirit.
First up is “Killswitch,” this issue’s new story by the tried-and-true writer team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, with art by Jerry Lando and colors by Paul Mounts (I think; see above). Killswitch is your run-of-the-mill master assassin. He’s got a heart of gold, a glib tongue, and a way with the ladies. While we’ve seen it all before, it’s as well done here as it’s ever been. There’s an acknowledged similarity, in both writing and art, to 80s action flicks, and that immediately puts the reader in the right frame of mind. The greatest failure is that no one ever shouts, “Killswitch, engage!” but then again, we’ve got several issues left to go.
“Black Sparrow,” by Steve Niles and Jay Russell with Andrew Ritchie on art duties is a curious little tale. It’s about a frontier family of the American West struggling with the idea that their son may be a psychopath. The man’s mental instability is demonstrated on the very first page, getting right to the point, which is good, as this is the first half of a two-part story, and several of the pages are only a single panel. Things move fast. The combination of a serial killer archetype and an old west setting is fascinating by itself, but Ritchie’s rugged characters and bleak scenery are an excellent match.
As always, Creator Owned Heroes contains a ton of additional material; this issue includes an interview with top-talent artist Amanda Conner, as well as questions from Palmiotti’s twitter followers and an article on writing comics. If the conclusion of the initial stories made you consider dropping this book, you better think again.