I was surprised by the first issue of “Project Superpowers: Meet the Bad Guys,” as it was much better than the previous “Project Superpowers” comics I’d read. This second issue continues that tradition thanks to some unexpected choices by Joe Casey and Alex Ross in the writing. Recently, Casey has written some fantastic supervillain-centered comics with “Dark Reign: Zodiac” and the supervillain congress plot in “Gødland,” and he brings that same skill and off-beat sensibility to this book.
Each issue focuses on a new villain with ties to one of the Golden Age heroes from “Project Superpowers,” this one being a possible exception as the new bad guy on the block, the Revolutionary, has no direct ties to the Fighting Yank. The Revolutionary is a young man with unknown powers, long hair, a combination of Revolutionary War-era and biker clothing who smokes a cigar and causes a lot of damage, almost a cross between George Washington and Lobo. The Fighting Yank is sent to confront him by the American Spirit, who says that the young man isn’t evil, just misguided, the latest in a long line of patriots and need guidance.
The spin that the Revolutionary is a patriot and, possibly, a hero in his own right, elevates this character from cookie-cutter villain to having potential in the future. While his action are that of a violent anarchist, that’s only because he’s a rebel fighting against the status quo that sees the current American way of life contrary to the values on which the country was founded. Sadly, not much actual explanation or depth is given to the Revolutionary, almost all of these ideas about the character offered by the American Spirit. We only get the most superficial look at this new character before the issue ends.
Mike Lilly’s realistic art captures the carnage of the Revolutionary well as well as the ghostly, haunted nature of the Fighting Yank. Comparing the two visually, Lilly sets them up in opposition, juxtaposing their ages and differing levels of vitality. An image that’s shattered when the Fighting Yank actually joins the action. Lilly’s layouts, though, are too busy and all over the place, meant to reflect the energetic story, but sometimes impairs clarity. All in all, his art is impressive and full of energy.
The character work on the Fighting Yank, in contrast to that of the Revolutionary, is strong, this issue acting more as a spotlight for him than the Revolutionary. Along with Jim Krueger and Doug Klauba’s two-page origin story at the end of the issue, the Fighting Yank’s past and character are explained very well. With him set up so well and the Revolutionary just introduced, this issue reads more like the first issue of a longer story. Hopefully, that story will be told sooner than later as it has the potential to be a great read.