Mark Millar, the genius behind Starlight, Superior, Secret Service, and The Unfunnies (one of these things is so not like the others) brings us another “superhero” book: MPH. Is it good?
MPH #1 (Image Comics)
In 1986, a mysterious man with powers like the Flash was taken into custody after doing the worst braking job ever before by a person with super speed powers. All that could be found on him was a mysterious bottle with the label: MPH. Now in 2014, Roscoe Rodriguez is a man with a plan. While he may be selling drugs for a guy called Samurai Hal (Not sure if worst street name ever or… best), he has his sights set on using the money to get him and his girl out of Detroit and moving towards a brighter future. Of course, life is full of those pesky twists and turns…
I told ya… this is some real good s**t bro.
MPH is kind of hard to get a good read on. On one hand, it’s not a bad first issue for this five-issue mini-series (at least, that’s what Image Comics is saying it is), but on the other, the story barely feels like it has gotten off the ground. This first issue was all about establishing Roscoe Rodriguez and how his idealistic nature has been completely beaten into the ground by a series of unfortunate events — so now we’re left with trying to grasp whatever choice he makes next (which we don’t get to see this issue, but we get a brief hint at it the opening narration). We also get an intriguing opening and closing, but not much detail surrounding the latter.
There’s just not much here yet. As I said before, issue #1 is basically all setup; good setup, but still not much to chew on. It seems like most of the action will be happening in the next issue. The book feels like it is lacking that standout aspect, like it’s distilled Millar; so far it lacks the punch or bite that Kick-Ass or Wanted had, and it’s also not as light or sweet as something like Superior — leaving it in a middle ground that’s kind of bland. It needed a few more pages to expand on this mythology, the other characters, or something else with some oomph.
Plus, if it was going to be a birthday present, now you don’t have to wrap it!
The rest of the writing in the comic is perfectly fine. The dialogue is decent and helps with the characterization. The pacing and structure of the book are okay and don’t interfere with any of the storytelling. The characters are okay, but besides Roscoe, they aren’t very developed (just developed enough to push the story and Roscoe in the right direction for the story). One negative thing to comment is that the story telegraphs a couple of scenes, so that you can immediately tell what’ll happen next.
The artwork is done by Duncan Fegredo, who I have never heard of before. His style is perfectly fine here; characters look diverse and different and the layouts are easy to follow. I do like the coloring difference that is done to help separate the past from the present in the comic, with the darker tones for the past and brighter colors for the present. There’s not much in the way of superhero powers shown, so we don’t get to see how well the artist handles that, but that’s for another issue.
I’m going to take a stab in the dark and assume that means Miles Per Hours sir.
Is It Good?
MPH #1 is not a bad comic at all, with some decent writing and good artwork. However, it’s lacking that little something that helps give it an edge or a real identity in this industry of unique takes on superheroes and powers. It may need another issue to truly take off.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!