Publisher: Heavy Metal
Writer(s): Donny Cates & Eliot Rahal
Artwork: Geoff Shaw
Release Date: 28th September, 2016
Have you ever picked up a comic and felt as though the creators had written and drawn it specifically for you? Like they’ve somehow burrowed into your brain and plucked out all the things you find interesting or hilarious in the world and moulded them together into a monthly series? Well, that’s pretty much how The Paybacks feels to me, and I’m truly grateful to the fine folks at Heavy Metal for giving Donny, Eliot and Geoff a platform to treat us all to four more issues of this absolutely genius creation.
So, to recap, things are going fairly badly for our heroes, what with the blame for the leaking of hundreds of superhero identities to the general public falling – somewhat unfairly – on them. Mr Pierce’s “kill a member of The Command and win your freedom” offer isn’t going too well either, with our hopelessly outmatched B and C-list debt collectors struggling against the almighty power of what is effectively this universe’s Justice League. Oh, and it takes precisely five panels for a cute little bunny to be blown up, so yeah, things are definitely not going well.
It’s interesting to see how Bloodpouch has gradually become the central point of the series, and rightfully so, making the shift from (admittedly hilarious) one-note Liefeld parody to perhaps the most compelling and engaging character in the series so far. His exchange with Veronica Hart in the latter stages of the issue is both intriguing and amusing, and there’s something innately likeable about the unwavering faith he has in his friends. Also, he has a pouch for an eyepatch, so there’s that.
Artist Geoff Shaw continues to make it seem as though this was the comic he was born to draw, with a slick, dynamic style and some wonderfully cartoony moments along the way. He also takes a few pages to explore a completely different artistic style with scintillating effect as the The Soviet Nunchuk, Emory Rains, Night Knight and Jacob Destruction venture deeper and deeper into the bowels of The Van in search of answers. Oh, and the last page of this issue is a visual tour de force that will have you jumping for joy as your jaw hits the floor – an intriguing anatomical situation, I’m sure you’ll agree.
For me though, the most enjoyable part of The Paybacks is the fact that it never quite degenerates into all-out parody, still maintaining a strong storyline structure and impressive dramatic beats amidst all the hilarity. Yes, it’s conceivable that the quirky humour and offbeat tone may not be to everyone’s taste, but quite frankly, if you don’t love this series with the fire of a thousand suns, you’re dead wrong, and also quite possibly mentally flawed in some way. Just sayin’.