Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer(s): Donny Cates, Eliot Rahal
Artist: Geoff Shaw
Colours: Lauren Affe
Release Date: 21st October, 2015
After a quote-unquote “absolutely bloody hilarious” first issue, Donny Cates and Eliot Rahal’s The Paybacks continues its early momentum here as our motley crew of C-list superhero repo men find themselves tasked with collecting from “The Command”, a group headed up by High Guard, arguably the world’s most powerful hero. Imagine the Justice League and Superman having the Watchtower repossessed due to falling behind on their payments, and you’re probably on the right track.
Artist Geoff Shaw provides the same impressive visuals here that we saw in the first issue, with some inspired character design and fluid, kinetic panels – particularly during the aforementioned superpowered throwdown. Lauren Affe’s colours are bright enough to keep things lively without ever becoming too bright and making everything garish, striking the perfect balance for the unorthodox tone the writers are clearly going for .
Shaw is clearly having an absolute blast here, churning out panels crammed with bold, dynamic superhero nonsense while still having time to throw in all manner of subtle nods and Easter Eggs – including an absolutely egg-tacular double-page spread – and his enthusiasm gives the book a sense of visual energy that goes hand in hand with Rahal and Cates’ writing.
Speaking of the writing, while it may not provide quite the same incapacitating belly-laughs of the first issue, this second chapter makes far better use of the overall premise, providing a wonderfully offbeat look at the world of superhero debt repossession. The way the Paybacks decide to tackle “The Command”, despite being woefully overmatched, is absolute genius, and speaks to not only their ingenuity but the creativity of the writers. The interpersonal relationships between the team are also starting to blossom gradually, and should provide a decent backbone for the story as it progresses.
Don’t get me wrong though, there are still plenty of chuckles to be had here, particularly coming from the banter between Skisquatch, Bloodpouch and The Soviet Nunchuk (all absolutely f’n amazing names, for the record), but there isn’t that one ‘on the floor’ moment to compare with the exchange between Night Knight and The Knight Mare from issue one. That said, an eyebrow-raising cliffhanger gives the series a surge of momentum moving forwards, and cements this book’s place in the “must buy” pile for the foreseeable future, assuming it wasn’t already there already.
Loaded with razor-sharp wit and overflowing with creativity, The Paybacks is essential reading for anyone who ever wondered what would happen if superheroes had to deal with debt collectors. Which, I’m assuming, is all of us.
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Oh, and if you want to find out a little more about the series, make sure to check out my interview with co-writers Donny Cates and Eliot Rahal. It’s a good ‘un.