There's an old saying: "There are no new ideas, and thus the success of something lies in the execution." I like the idea of Mike Carey and Elena Casagrande's "Suicide Risk" #1, even if it's not entirely new, but the execution is not quite what I had hoped for.
Carey is generally a writer I enjoy and so perhaps my expectations were too high for this new book, but there's something about it that doesn't quite sing, at least not yet. The idea, one of "buying superpowers" and a world of superpowered beings running rampant, is not a new one, but Carey's approach to it is solid. The opening scene with all its bad guys (and one unfortunate good guy) is strong, but the lead character, a cop that feels helpless in his superpowered world is a little rote in this first issue. Carey tries his best to help us relate to him and empathize but the pacing is rushed in order to get to our first big plot point and before we can connect with our hero he's making seriously questionable decisions. It stretches believability a little bit given what we know so far. Still, the set up has a ton of promise and in a writer of Carey's caliber, could go far. There's some cool very subtle world building that I loved -- like the use of the word "Krypts" as a shorthand for a powered individual's weakness -- and the more of that awesome layered thinking there is, the better this story will be.
Casagrande's art is frustratingly inconsistent. Frustrating because the parts that are good are very good. The character design -- for all new superheroes and villains no less -- is solid. So are some of the more intimate moments and even some of the talking heads scenes. The action scenes are a mixed bag -- sometimes it's working and sometimes it's a bit thin -- with backgrounds disappearing, or poor storytelling choices. In fairness, this issue is chock full of difficult tasks as it includes a ton of characters, plus the introduction of concepts, powers and basic world building -- and most of it Casagrande does well. The art is very consistent when it comes to identifying characters (a huge deal with so many new faces in a first issue) and the storytelling is nicely clear, but it's missing that elusive quality that takes it from adequate and effective to brilliant and inspiring. All that said, for a first issue, it's still interesting work that I expect to grow exponentially as the series continues.
"Suicide Risk" is certainly worth a few issues to see if Carey and Casagrande can find that magic that makes a great new superhero story with a twist. All the elements are in place for it to happen, and I'm willing to give them a few months to hammer out the kinks, you should too.