Creator Owned Heroes #8 Review

With this, the eighth issue, Creator Owned Heroes comes to an end. Still, just because it’s the last issue doesn’t mean Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Steve Niles, and company are cutting short the amount of content. Here’s the official descript of from Image:

“KILL SWITCH,” Conclusion
The game of death continues in it’s final chapter as Kill Switch, surrounded by an army of blood thirsty assassins and dealing the last issue’s betrayal, vows to hunt down and punish the person responsible no matter how long it takes!

“MEATBAG,” Part Two
Potbelly Sanders is dead, deceased, expired. Now Detective DeSanto is on his own, and falling further and further into darkness. Part Two of “Meatbag” concludes with a twist of bizarre noir by SCOTT MORSE and STEVE NILES in their first CREATOR-OWNED HEROES collaboration.

Interviews, contests, art galleries, con photos, and original articles, all celebrating the creator-owned spirit.

First up is the conclusion to “Meatbag,” by Steve Niles, with beautiful, unconventional art by Scott Morse. The story is effectively creepy, but veers away from the chic noir tone of the first half, into Twilight Zone territory. The ending is decidedly  bleak (perhaps a comment on the ending of the book as a whole?)

Darwyn Cooke‘s contribution is a personal story originally written for his fiancée, and later distributed to guests at his wedding. Unfortunately, the story may be too personal to truly touch the reader. It seems likely that Cooke originally intended to begin a multi-part tale, and was left scrambling for a one-and-done when he learned of COH‘s cancellation.

Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti have made a number of odd choices with “Killswitch,” with the story’s emphasis varying significantly with each installment. Here, Killswitch goes DEEP undercover to catch up with Traci. The outcome is strange, and there’s the feeling that GrayPalm intended to write additional Killswitch stories before getting to this point with the character. Jerry Lando‘s art is more than a little suggestive. It’s generally great, but the anatomy is odd in a few places, with the awkwardness that sometimes comes from overly realistic figures.

Next comes a series of interviews/profiles by Christopher Irving, with photos by Seth Kushner, called “Leaping Tall Buildings: Independent Spirits.” Irving and Kushner previously collaborated on Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics. In COH #8, we get pieces focusing on Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead and Invincible; the Hernandez Brothers, Gilbert and Jaime, who are famous for Love and Rockets, along with their brother Mario; and Bryan Lee O’Malley, of Scott Pilgrim fame. These profiles serve as primers for each creator’s career, their contributions to the creator owned movement, and their direction going forward. Here again, it feels like COH needed to fill space for the final issue, as many of the previously seen columns are absent.

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The book closes with a touching personal letter from Jimmy Palmiotti.

It’s hard to fault the book’s creators for deficiencies in the final issue. The end of COH likely necessitated changes in plans and priorities: stories originally intended to run for some time had to be cut short, and, when faced with multiple projects, why devote too much energy to the one that can’t be saved?

Creator Owned Heroes has been a bold experiment for comics, and its end doesn’t bode well for an industry that continues to struggle (despite recently reported sales increases over previous years). Here’s wishing all the best to all the creators involved, and hoping that any similar offerings meet with better reception in the future.


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