This was initially going to be a review of the new No Hero Issue 0, written by Warren Ellis and drawn by Juan Jose Ryp, but then I started thinking about the similarities between this title and Black Summer, which was done by the same creative team.
Aside from the art, which is quite interesting in both projects, I think the biggest reason for this observation of similarity is that these are both comics about people who gain superhuman powers in our generation, in our time. They are set in our universe, and they are essentially near-future science fiction superhero comics. There is no magic, no mythological talismans of great power, and no “black box” plot devices. This is the kind of science fiction that I really go in for. It’s also the kind of science fiction that, unless it’s done really well, often dates itself, and thus has a relatively short shelf-life.
In a way, Black Summer already dated itself by using the president’s name (I think) right away in issue 0. No Hero dates itself by using actual dates in this issue, which more or less just sets up the story. I guess that also makes it alternate history. We’ll see in 2011 whether its still readable after the main part of the story would have already happened. That makes three genres in these comics: superhero, near-future science fiction, and alternate history.
Warren Ellis is also writing Freak Angels, which I believe to be one of the most interesting web comics I’ve ever read. It could also get thrown in with these as another near-future science fiction, although it involves telepathy (and probably telekinesis) which in my mind at least makes it more fantasy than science fiction. In Black Summer it’s technology that gives the super-heroes their meta-human abilities. In No Hero it’s chemistry and drug use. We don’t really know what gives the Freak Angels their abilities. It hasn’t yet been explained.
As a side-note, I should get to meet Warren Ellis later today at Wizard World.
Anyway, I love these gritty (bloody) near futures that Warren Ellis is creating for us. I’ve been waiting to write about Black Summer until the last issue comes out, but its been one that just keeps getting better with each issue (and it started out pretty damn spectacular). I can’t wait for the conclusion of Black Summer, and I’ll definitely be looking forward to reading all of No Hero as it comes out.