The End League #1 (Dark Horse)

el1header.jpgIn a world full of superpowered people using their abilities for their own gains, what are the few outnumbered, out-gunned hero-types to do?


24 pgs. full color; $2.99

(W: Rick Remender; A: Mat Broome and Sean Parsons)


The End League, the new superhero book from Fear Agent writer Rick Remender, stands apart from most traditional books in the genre from the get-go because it is set in a world where the good guys have already been dealt a crushing blow. Due to a natural disaster in the ‘60s, one person out of every thousand has some form of superpower, and like most people in the real world, these powered individuals tended to use their advantageous position over humanity to serve their own self-interests rather than to benefit mankind. The action follows the few remaining heroes as they try to cope with a world that doesn’t welcome them.


The cover to End League #1 by Mat Broome and Sean Parsons. Click for a larger image.Admittedly the concept for the book is more than a little derivative, drawing from the conventions of the genre and then turning them on their head. The characters we are introduced to in this first issue are all analogues of infamous hero archetypes, as readily acknowledged by Remender himself in the text piece following the story. You can easily recognize a Superman-esque character, for example, as well as his arch-nemesis and several of his colleagues. The plot devices are similarly standard fare found in superhero deconstructionist works; it’s essentially Watchmen set in the world of Martha Washington. The tone is especially reminiscent of J. Michael Straczynski’s Rising Stars, particularly the narration of The End League‘s tortured main character, and the dystopian landscape here reminded me more than a little of that book’s middle act.


But still the book works as a whole. If you like superheroes and are bored of the predictability of mainstream hero comics, how nothing ever seems to change and good always manages to triumph over evil, this comic will probably get your toes tapping. The heroes here literally start out the story in hiding and on the run after most of their number has been ruthlessly murdered during an en masse attack from the villains of the world. Evil has essentially won the day. The baddies have achieved total world domination, and those on the side of good are left picking the bones of what remains of modern society, searching for scraps of food amongst the rubble in order to survive.


Interior art from The End League #1 by Mat Broome and Sean Parsons. Click for a larger image.The book’s success is due in no small part to the beautiful art of ‘90s Wildstorm mainstay Mat Broome (Stormwatch, WildCATs). In his aforementioned afterword to the story, Remender himself describes Broome as "an artist who blows the nipples off of anyone who saw [his work]," and despite the purple prose it’s a sentiment I agree with wholeheartedly. Broome’s line work is some of the most beautifully rendered adventure-style art I’ve seen in a superhero comic in quite some time.


Mat Broome is not the only one to be praised for the exquisite detail in the imagery of this book. Sean Parsons’ inks keep Broome’s pencils tight as a snare drum, and Wendy Broome’s colors are so vibrant and bold that the images pop right off the page. These artists have worked together brilliantly to create a look for this series that captures the feel of the story so perfectly that you literally cannot imagine the book as drawn by someone else. They truly have meshed as a team in their work on this series, and it shows clearly on every single page, particularly the earliest pages which flash back to the days before the villains took over.


In the grand scheme of things, The End League might not be beginning its run from the most original of starting points, but the art elevates the book to such a level of quality that it will be able to find an audience and continue publishing. Hopefully that will give this series enough time for the story to catch up to the boldness of the art and thus live up to its potential, to distill those ideas it borrows from other great explorations of the superhero genre down to their core concepts and refine them to create something new and astounding. | Steve Higgins


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