Advance Review – Surviving Megalopolis #1 (Dark Horse)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Jim Calafiore
Release Date: January 13th, 2016

Set one month after the dramatic conclusion of Leaving Meagalopolis, Jim Calafiore and Gail Simone are taking us back into the city ruled by psychopathic ex-superheroes in the latest instalment of the series, fittingly titled Surviving Megalopolis.  The first series, a runaway Kickstarter success, made its mark by flipping the established superhero trope on its head and making the ‘regular’ citizens of the city the real heroes.  Featuring an impressive mix of humour, drama and utterly chilling horror, the series has been crying out for a follow-up ever since it first launched, and now, thankfully, we get a chance to revisit this truly intriguing world.

Ex-hero Southern Belle takes much more of a dominant role in the early portion of this series, engineering an attempt to retrieve the body of Overlord following the climactic battle at the end of the first book.  Simone and Calafiore throw some amusing new ‘crazy capes’ into the mix as part of Belle’s crew, with “useless extended prophylactic” Ribbon providing the definite highlight.  Quite what their plans are for the corpse (assuming he’s even dead, which seems unlikely) of the world’s greatest hero remains to be seen, but given the previous tone of this series, it’s unlikely to be anything good.

Out in the real world, the meat of the storytelling takes place, as Megalopolis survivor Harold Lamb is approached with an offer – a daring rescue of a rich businessman trapped within the confines of the city, as well as a chance to retrieve the allegedly-still-alive Mina, whose brave sacrifice led to his escape at the end of the last chapter.  As should be expected, Simone handles the exposition in a smooth, accessible manner, bringing us up to speed without having to hit us with an unwieldy wall of dialogue, and while the basic conceit isn’t exactly revolutionary, it’s solid enough to warrant a long overdue return to the doomed city.

Calafiore’s artwork retains its incredibly high standard, with bold, dynamic figures and a steady hand during the action sequences.  His character design remains top-notch as well, with some creative costumes for the new ‘capes’ – particularly Batman analogue “The Crimson Shadow”, who features heavily during the latter pages of this issue.  Jason Wright does an impressive job with the colours too, giving the ex-heroes some typically bright, colourful costumes but still managing to keep the overall palette dark and grimy, adding to the tension and horror of the city.

Overall then, while this is undoubtedly a set-up issue first and foremost, Simone and Calafiore have introduced some truly intriguing plot threads here, and while it may not quite have the same attention-grabbing punch of the previous series – at least not yet, anyway – there’s still something utterly compelling about the city of Megalopolis.  One thing’s for sure, you can count me in for as long as they keep making books set in this utterly gripping world.

Rating: 4/5.

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The writer of this piece was: 576682_510764502303144_947146289_nCraig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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