The day will come when I read an issue of Creator Owned Heroes and realize the series is no longer getting better. (It has to stop sooner or later, right?) But it is not this day. Issue 7 once again feels groundbreaking, and it’s extra-sized to boot. Here’s the official description from Image:
A brand new story by STEVE NILES and SCOTT MORSE, and more madness from DARWYN COOKE!
“KILL SWITCH,” Part Three
Locked in a Peruvian Prison, Kill Switch awaits a Mexican hit squad as he tries to discover who put a bounty on his head and why. The bullets fly as our hero is led into a deadly game of death against the world’s best and most eccentric assassins, but the gloves come off when they threaten his family.
“MEATBAG,” Part One
Detective Paul DeSanto works the seedy side of Los Angeles. He specializes in cheaters and losers, but he never chooses sides. In Hollywood cheats and loses work both sides of the street. After one of his operatives is eviscerated in an alleyway, DeSanto discovers the strange side of seedy.
Plus: LEAPING TALL BUILDINGS: INDEPENDENT SPIRITS a profile feature by Christopher Irving and Seth Kushner spotlighting EVAN DORKIN.
COH #7 has a lot going on that makes it great. So much, in fact, that it’s impossible to go into much detail. Here’s a machine-gun rundown of the issue: A tongue-in-cheek horror story from Darwyn Cooke and Dave Stewart; think contemporary Twilight Zone. Part Three of “Killswitch”, by Palmiotti and Gray, sees the story get even MORE cynical; Jerry Lando’s art gets sexier, but Killswitch himself gets a weird face-lift. “Meatbag”, by Steve Niles is a catchy, noirish Private-Eye tale that may remind you of Ed Brubaker‘s Fatale; the art by Scott Morse is impressionistic and the story goes by too fast. Jeffrey Burandt’s “Blood & Brains” is another zombie story, but at just five pages, and centered on a plot twist, you can’t help but love it. “Complex”, a photocomic by Seth Kushner, Chris Miskiewicz, and Dean Haspiel, is the weakest link; it’s intentionally nonsensical in places, and the CG elements make the physical act of reading it difficult. There’s also an interview with Brandon Seifert, a piece on Evan Dorkin, questions for the creators from Twitter, and more.
Does Creator Owned Heroes #7 have weak points? Sure. As a whole, the magazine is still leaning too far in the action/crime/horror direction. There’s also a definite “throw it at the wall and see if it sticks” quality. And the aforementioned Kushner-Miskiewicz-Haspiel piece is a bit too experimental. But guess what? Those latter two “problems” are the whole point of the book. The whole thing is an ongoing experiment, and half the point is to provide a venue where creators can field new concepts to see if they float.
What makes Creator Owned Heroes #7 a further step forward is the overall feel of experimentation. We’re still anchored by the stories from GrayPalm and Niles, but they no longer provide the majority of the material. And at 56 pages for $3.99, that’s a lot of material for your money.
Creator Owned Heroes isn’t merely a title for your pull list. It’s required reading for anyone who claims to give a sh*t about comics.