Review – Leaving Megalopolis: Surviving Megalopolis #5 (of 6) (Dark Horse)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Jim Calafiore
Release Date: 29th June, 2016

As Dark Horse’s Surviving Megalopolis enters its penultimate chapter, co-creators Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore have turned out what is – in my opinion – easily the best issue of the series so far.  Featuring twisted humour, sex, violence, horror, glorious profanity and even – gasp – the death of a major character (or two!), this latest issue sees the Megalopolis series continue to excel by virtue of its sheer creativity and the brash, unapologetic delivery of its story.

It doesn’t hurt that it looks absolutely fantastic, courtesy of Calafiore’s rich, detailed artwork.  There’s a definite ‘big two’ feel to his larger-than-life characters, but he also packs in an impressive range of expression and some truly poster-worthy splash pages along the way.  His character design is absolutely top notch, and I couldn’t help but find myself longing to know more about the backstory and powers of Simon Valiant’s assembled cadre of villains – “Mime Master” in particular.  Calafiore’s cinematic layouts keep the pages turning rapidly, and give a wonderful sense of emphasis to Simone’s already in-your-face storyline beats.  Oh, and we also get a brief Fleet appearance, which is the cherry on this gorgeously illustrated sundae as far as I’m concerned.

Simone’s trademark bawdy sense of humour is on full display throughout, particularly during the scenes featuring Southern Belle, and while there are some truly shocking moments contained within these pages, Simone’s note perfect delivery keeps the darkly comic tone alive throughout without things every becoming too bleak or joyless.

The overarching question for this arc – and indeed the previous “Leaving Megalopolis” series as a whole – has been a simple one: what the hell actually happened to cause all of these heroes to turn into homicidal maniacs?  And in this issue, we are finally given an answer.  Well… sort of.  While we are given a brief, a jaw-dropping peek at the source of the former heroes’ insanity, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher that actually ends up providing more questions than answers.  No bad thing in an ongoing series, but slightly worrying in a six-part mini.

In fact, my only real concern going into the final issue is whether or not Simone and Calafiore can tie everything together in a satisfying enough way to round out the series.  The pace has been fairly relaxed to this point, making for an undoubtedly enjoyable read but leaving a lot of unresolved issues and dangling plot threads waiting to be dealt with.  And while it’s clear that the plan is for even more Leaving Megalopolis in the future (fingers crossed, anyway), I’m hoping for at least some small amount of closure in the upcoming final issue of this arc.

Overall though, I honestly can’t sing the praises of this series highly enough.  By turns hilarious, shocking, moving and absolutely bat-shit crazy, Simone and Calafiore have created a world like no other, and a city that – while I’d damn sure never want to live there – I definitely look forward to visiting every month.  Bring on the finale.

Rating: 4.5/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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