The first issue of “Halcyon” showed promise and potential but seemed more like a teaser issue than a first issue meant to hook you. The second issue steps up to fill that role in a more satisfying way, though not perfectly. Picking up a month after the first issue, the world is now free of crime and major aggression, leaving superheroes in an interesting and unexpected position. The approach to the series is a smart one, but the characters still lack the necessary depth for us to care about them.
With no crime to stop, the heroes of this world have nothing to do. Transom, the speedster, is the only one who can do anything because he’s the only fast enough to reach natural disasters and accidents around the world. The other heroes struggle with being obsolete, each in their own way. However, we don’t get much insight into any of the heroes. The only ones that come off as something beyond generic supers are Sabre and Zenith, and even Zenith doesn’t get much time on-panel. She’s the only hero that we see that seems happy, finally liberated from the crushing duties of being a superhero. She can finally enjoy herself.
Sabre, on the other hand, investigates what could be causing the lack of violence around the world. He’s usually a violent, almost psychotic vigilante and not being what he is seems to disturb him. There’s a trace of Rorschach in Sabre, but he may be worse in that his purpose isn’t built on obvious right/wrong. Why he’s bothering to figure out what happened tells us something disturbing about him. What should be utopia, a new stage in humanity, is another problem to solve, another scheme to doom everyone. That his quest is given so much time makes me think he may be right, which would be disappointing.
Ryan Bodenheim is a good fit for this book. His art has a modern, sleek-yet-dark look that matches the tone of the writing. His Sabre is disturbing both in and out of costume, like a skeevy Cole Cash. He’s good at delivering strong, bold images that draw the eye in. The way he constructs Transom’s attempt to stop a tidal wave is intriguing and builds upon the narration, showing just how tired he is before he’s hit.
His art, though, shows some limitations, particularly in showing people speaking from anything but a full-front angle. His characters look too posed and purposeful, too staged. It’s not the most natural, easy-going art, and, as it moves away from the realm of superheroes, that could be a limitation.
Overall, “Halcyon” #2 is a much more intriguing and compelling issue than the first, but it’s still too soon into the story to get a solid read on the title. It has the potential to be a unique, imaginative story that explores a very fascinating post-superhero world, but it could also turn into just another supervillain plot that needs to be foiled. I’m hoping for the former and, so far, “Halcyon” hasn’t disappointed.