Last issue, former super villain Carmine is caught cheating a casino and is ordered to pay them $100 million in a year’s time. With nowhere else to go, he turns to former protegee Johnny Bolt, himself fresh out of prison and reunited with ex-fiancee Kasey, also a former villain. Bolt hatches a plan to venture outside of the U.S., away from all the super heroes who continuously thwart their schemes.
This issue, it’s time to put the gang back together. Their first recruit is The Ghost, “The world’s greatest cat -burglar.” The Ghost, however is living a comfortable life working as an architect. Johnny basically guilt-trips him into signing on, reminding him of how Carmine took him under his wing in prison and protected him.
The next recruit is a bit easier to convince. Like The Ghost, TK McCabe — who has telekinetic powers– is living an honest life, working in a warehouse. But after a conflict with his boss, he is more than willing to join Johnny’s team.
Weather controller Forecast is using his powers to create rainstorms, so people will buy his umbrellas on the street, but Johnny offers him the chance to “make some real money.”
The next scene is very Mark Millar, and by that I mean absolutely, brutally violent but funny at the same time. Two indestructible brothers, Roddy and Sammy Diesel have been reduced to underground super villain fighting. Johnny and Carmine watch in horror as the two brothers, who can regenerate any limb they lose, beat and are beaten bloody in the ring. Sammy’s entire right leg is ripped off, but Roddy picks it up and uses it to beat one of their opponents to death! As if the graphic, over-the-top violence weren’t amusing enough, the dialogue is the worst, most vulgar pro wrestling trash talk I’ve ever seen! It’s like what pro wrestlers would be if they didn’t have writers and had to ad lib, and all they could come up with is strings of profanities!
The gang is assembled! (Well, almost.) Kasey’s telepathic powers help them get to their destination without being spotted. Kasey is not happy to be there and tells Johnny that as soon as Carmine has enough money to pay off his debt, she’s out of there. They arrive at their base, an apartment. TK explains that “Hotels have security and too many people around. An apartment gives us a little more privacy.” Carmine says, “We’ve still got the lovely Glenda to pick up.”
Johnny waits at an outdoor festival until a forty year old man arrives. Johnny has apparently been communicating with him through a gay, pick up website. “Glenda” seems nervous in a good way. “You, on the other hand, look fantastic,” he says. Johnny then tells him he knows who he is, that they fought five years ago and that “Glenda” left him chained to a pole on a subway. “Glenda” starts to leave, but Johnny says, “Sit down, Gladiator!” Johnny knows that Gladiator tells his wife that he’s going off on undercover super hero mission, when in reality he is hooking up with other men in exotic locations. Gladiator threatens Johnny, but Johnny tells him they are surrounded by his teammates and that he has to help them in their heist or else he’ll leak all the nude photos Gladiator has been texting him to the media. Johnny elaborates on their plan a bit, that they are not there to “rob any banks or dear, old Spanish grandmothers. We’re here to fleece a retired super-criminal and help him part with all that loot he’s been funneling into ridiculous investments.”
Suddenly they spot the Praetorian, a hero who was recently acquitted of his crimes of brutality. He storms out and beats the hell out of some kids who were hanging out around his car. Gladiator asks, “You’re here to rob the Praetorian?” Johnny says that the Praetorian is just a bodyguard. Their real target is his boss Christopher Matts, a.k.a. The Bastard, the biggest criminal in the world!
This is a fun book! Doesn’t everyone love a good heist? The super villain angle brings something fresh to that concept, but it’s still got all the necessary aspects, the getting the gang together sequence, the seemingly impossible task, conflicting personalities… it’s all there. Millar’s sharp, realistic dialogue elevates everything to the next level.
Leinil Yu’s art is fantastic. The highlight is the underground fight sequence, which may be the goriest thing I’ve ever seen in a comic! But it’s so over-the-top, as is the dialogue, that it’s funny in a Tarentino kind of way.
Overall, a really simple concept– super villains leave the country and go someplace there are no super heroes– but really taken to the next level.
Written by Mark Millar
Art and Cover by Leinil Yu