Criminals take the law into their own hands
Patton Oswalt, best known for being the voice of a rat in Ratatouille, the voice of a raven (not a crow) in The Sandman, and the voice of the voiceless on Twitter, has teamed up with his M.O.D.O.K. co-showrunner Jordan Blum to create a new, twisted superhero world in Dark Horse’s 4-issue mini-series Minor Threats.
|Minor Threats #1: A Quick End To A Long Beginning
Writers: Patton Oswalt and Jordan Blum
Artist: Scott Hepburn
Cover Artists: Scott Hepburn, Mike Mignola and Christian Ward
Colorist: Ian Herring
Letterer: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Editor: Daniel Chabon
Sensitivity Reader: Nichole “Dakky Comics” Robinson
Medical Know-How And Inside Slang: Claire Miles, EMT
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Minor Threats #1 introduces us to Frankie, formerly the supervillain known as “Playtime.” She was a child sidekick to the supervillain known as “Toy Queen,” who also happens to be her mom. She served jail time for her criminal ways and is now a bartender at a supervillain pub where D-list super-losers hang out to drink and talk about their next big diabolical master plan.
Estranged from her husband and daughter, life really sucks for Frankie right now. She just wants to keep her head down, pay her dues and find a way back into her daughter’s life. She’s just trying to do right. Even as her ma urges her to go back to a life of crime (way to go, Mother of the Year), she is done with all of that. She definitely doesn’t have time to be involved in any super-powered donnybrooks.
Oswalt and Blum make sure that Frankie is relatable and human. Even with a colorful cast of criminals and superheroes with questionable tactics, the writing duo keeps things grounded by having Frankie do her damnedest to live a normal life and reconcile with her family. They make you root for her. They also make you like the aforementioned colorful cast of lowlifes and sickos.
There’s Brain Tease, a comical Z-list version of the Riddler; Pigeon Pete, an old school believer of honor amongst thieves; and Scalpel, a disgraced surgeon turned underworld mob doctor. Scalpel stands out the most as she seems to fit the role of Frankie’s frenemy. She’s coldhearted, evil and a lot of fun.
Aside from introducing us to a motley crew of miscreants, Oswalt and Blum also invite us to a world that is a lot like DC’s and Marvel’s, vibrant and full of men and women in tights, but more prone to rot and corruption. It’s a universe where we see what happens when power is left unchecked and the little people are left to fend for themselves. It has superpowered beings, (dead) monsters and sobering expressions of class inequalities.
This world is wonderfully drawn by Scott Hepburn. His character designs are familiar yet unique enough to not be too similar to the characters found in other more established superhero universes. It’s stylized a bit but very detailed as well, giving the characters and the world they live in the feel of traditional superhero comics but with an edge.
It’s a world where things aren’t purely black and white. Supervillains have heart. They have problems, dreams and a code. Superheroes have fears, insecurities and the tendency to be assholes. It gives off a The Boys vibe, but it’s much less violent. For now, at least. If Analog-Batman is pissed because Analog-Robin was murdered, you can bet your butt that things will get pretty violent pretty soon.
From the strange bar patrons to the jackass Justice League analogs, from Frankie’s self-analysis to her making a decision that will push everyone into a fun conflict, there’s a lot here to make me want to come back for more. Minor Threats #1 is a major achievement in subverting superhero-supervillain stories. Not bad for the voice of Nom Nom from We Bare Bears.
I give this 4 out of 5 kaiju carcasses.
“Minor Threats #1” is now available wherever fine comic books are sold.
Banner Image Alexandra Lara