After the horrifying, shocking final pages of “No Hero” #6, how this series could possibly end loomed high in the minds of many readers. After a character rips out the spine of another and attaches it to his groin as a substitute penis, where exactly do you go? Thankfully, this Warren Ellis we’re talking about, so he manages to up the carnage and make a point in the process.
Joshua Carver has apparently been driven insane after taking the FX7 drug to obtain superpowers and has begun killing his new teammates on the Front Line. In this issue, he finishes the job, an unstoppable freak determined to bring down everything Carrick Masterson, the secret ruler of the world, has built over the past 50 years. We learn exactly how damaged Josh is, why he joined the Front Line, and what exactly FX7 does to people. The revelations are harsh and disturbing, but presented well.
With everything building to this issue, Ellis and Juan Jose Ryp deliver not just on the promise of horrific violence but on the promise of exploring what becoming a superhuman means -- and, in many ways, acts as the inversion of their last collaboration, “Black Summer.” Where that series was about unfulfilled potential and the condemnation that comes with it, this one is about the potential to change the world realized, and what that entails. The final pages of this issue are haunting as things somehow get worse.
The ideas that Ellis presents here are somewhat hard to fully get into because they’re not dealt with directly. There are advantages to that, but also disadvantages. The biggest advantage is that this issue doesn’t read like a lecture on how superhumans could change the world for the better and that democracy may not be the answer, that the responsibility that comes with this sort of power is larger than we think. The disadvantage is that those ideas and messages may not come through as strongly as needed.
This issue marks the first comic Avatar has printed on new, glossier paper stock (sadly, sans the smell of the old paper, one of Avatar’s identifying features) and it shows off Ryp’s gorgeous detailed art better than before. The art is crisper, cleaner, and brighter than it was on the old paper stock making Ryp’s art leap off the page. In some cases, that’s a bad thing, because who wants a freak in a jump suit with a bloody spinal column attached just below the waist jumping out at them, but, aside from that nightmare-inducing image, Ryp’s pencils and Digikore’s colors have never looked better. While Ryp handles the extreme violence and bloody carnage with ease, he also chills often with the look on Josh’s disfigured, freakish face, which conveys a disturbing amount of cold emotion.
The second part of Ellis’s superhero trilogy of works for Avatar, “No Hero” concludes in a disturbing combination of violence and horrible consequences.