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Category: Comics & Books

Review | No Hero

Posted in Comics & Books



Publisher/s: Avatar Press

Genre: Superhero, science-fiction

Author/s: Warren Ellis

Artist/s: Juan Jose Ryp

Format: Limited Series

No. of Issues: 8

Vintage: June 2008 – September 2009

How much do you want to be a super human? In the 1960s, a chemist named Carrick Masterson creates a revolutionary drug that creates the first and only S.P.B’s (super powered beings) in an effort to curb the increasingly violent police activity throughout America.  In the ’60s, the first generation of super humans are called The Levellers, so-called after the popular movement that came out of the English Civil War.  Masterson’s drug, labeled FX7, a designed alteration of 5-methoxy-diisopropyltryptamine, has side-effects as dangerous as the powers they gain.

Juan Jose Ryp is responsible the the amazing, if somewhat disturbing artwork.
Juan Jose Ryp is responsible the the amazing, if somewhat disturbing artwork.

The secret to Masterson’s FX7 is jealously guarded, and over the years The Levellers, who eventually become known as The Frontline, have to contend with various government agencies who are desperate to get the formula for FX7.

Fast forward to 2011, members of The Frontline are being assassinated one after another, as after several decades, Masterson (who has obviously taken FX7 himself, due to the fact that he cannot die) has managed to step on the toes of half the world, with his exploits of super-heroism but as The Levellers begin to dwindle, Masterson seeks out potential members – enter Joshua Carver.

Josh Carver really wants to be a superhero, so much so that he trains vigorously everyday, doesn’t smoke, take drugs or drink and doesn’t even eat meat.  In peak psychical condition, Carver masquerades at night as a vigilante, dispensing hard-hitting justice to the scum of society in a desperate attempt to get the attention of Carrick Masterson.  So what does it take to get noticed? For Josh it was jumping from three stories and landing on some punk (crushing him of course) and his friends.  Impressed, Masterson invites Carver to his not-so-humble abode and starts the procedure that will enable Joshua to become the newest member of the most powerful group on Earth.

In the typical Warren Ellis fashion, No Hero is extremely violent.

So that’s the premise of No Hero and if it strikes your fancy I highly recommend that you read it.  No Hero has a kind of Watchmen-like tone to it in that both comics share key elements –  heroes from the old days, a ‘mask killer’ and a wonderful plot twist.  While nowhere near the level of Alan Moore’s masterpiece, No Hero is a fine piece of work and together with Juan Jose Ryp who has done a brilliant job of illustrating the story (the artwork is amazingly detailed and I’d hate to think how much time must have been spent to achieve such painstaking attention to detail), Warren Ellis has once again managed to dream up an interesting take on the superhero genre.  Much like the FX7 drug, nothing is as it seems in No Hero and somehow Avatar Press has managed to impress me yet again with another brilliantly gruesome and hugely entertaining story and I look forward to future releases of Warren Ellis and Avatar Press.

Score | A