Notice what it doesn’t say on the cover of “Final Crisis Aftermath: Run!” #1. There’s no blurb that announces, “from the writer of the second half of ‘Salvation Run’ and the artist of the underwhelming and recently-cancelled ‘Robin’ series!”
Obviously, DC marketing would never put such a statement on the cover of any book they actually wanted to sell, but it’s a true statement nonetheless. And Matt Sturges and Freddie Williams II certainly aren’t A-list comic book creators. Yet Sturges has done journeyman’s work on the aforementioned “Salvation Run” (a campy series that I kind of liked by the middle and totally despised by the end) and “Blue Beetle” and “House of Mystery.” He’s a decent writer of human drama in the form of the superhuman comic book tale. Williams II did good enough work on “Robin” and he didn’t look all that bad as he wrapped up “Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle” back in the day. Seeing their names on a comic neither dissuades me nor persuades me.
So I didn’t have any particular expectations going into this series, and yet Sturges and Williams II didn’t surprise me one bit. “Run!” #1 is a middle-of-the-road comic about a lame supervillain trying to run away from his problems and causing a mess while doing so.
The lame supervillain in question is Mike Miller, the so-called “Human Flame,” a long-forgotten Martian Manhunter villain who rose from obscurity in the opening chapters of “Final Crisis.” As we recall from that series — and if we don’t, Sturges and Williams II give us a quick recap to start this issue — Libra killed the Manhunter on behalf of Miller, and then Miller found himself (along with most of Earth’s population) under the control of Darkseid’s anti-life equation. It was a rough weekend for everyone.
And Miller doesn’t make it any better by punching his attending nurse on the second and third pages of this issue, and then hightailing it out of the hospital with his hairy ass exposed. (Williams II doesn’t hold back on showing the hirsute Mr. Miller in all of his inglorious glory.) Thus, we quickly get the formula for this six-issue series: the pathetic, bumbling villain ain’t gonna let himself get thrown in the slammer, so he hits the road.
That formula drives the first issue, and presumably the remaining five, but before he skips town he’s gotta do one big job to finance his excursion. The job involves the Kyrgyzstani Mob, and, as you can imagine, it doesn’t go well.
This is a comic that features a splash page of Mike Miller setting a mobster and a guy in an oversized lamb costume on fire, and while I’m usually all for such images, it just feels like one more hum-drum event in the life of this character. It’s exaggerated, and played for laughs and/or excitement, but it’s a Tim Allen-style movie comedy with a touch more facial disfigurement. It just sits there, like much of this issue, until you say, “yup, this is a comic about the Human Flame running from people.”
Since nobody cares about Mike Miller, one might think that the creators could do anything with him, completely free from the burdens of corporate fealty. But no, it’s just another comic that’s exactly what you’d expect from something called “Final Crisis Aftermath” and distributed five months after the main series concluded. That is, it’s what you’d expect assuming you didn’t expect much at all.