No Hero
by Warren Ellis, Juan Jose Ryp (Avatar, 2009)

When Joshua Carver gains superpowers, his penis falls off.

I tell you this because you should know what sort of thing you're getting into before you consider reading Warren Ellis's stand-alone graphic novel, No Hero. This isn't your standard sort of superhero comic.

In this world, there is one superhero team in the world. Formed as the Levellers in the 1960s and later revamped as the Front Line, this team owes its powers to Carrick Masterson, whose special blend of psychedelic drugs grants special abilities. The Front Line not only fights crime, it also ensures that no other superheroes are created.

But now, just as Joshua Carver is introduced to the team as its newest member, someone is declaring war on the Front Line -- and its heroes are dying.

No Hero twists and turns as the story unfolds, and you probably won't enjoy every direction it takes. Also, the blood-soaked art by Ellis collaborator Juan Jose Ryp might be a little too messy for some weak stomachs. And the ending -- by which I mean the very last page -- is a bit of a shock.

But it's nice to see books like this that don't follow the standard pattern. It's good to shake up the genre a little -- something Ellis has always been good at doing. Check out 2008's Black Summer, also by Ellis and Ryp, for similar themes.

review by
Tom Knapp

2 October 2010

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