In many ways, “MPH” #2 zooms along exactly as you’d imagine. After going to jail in the first issue and then discovering a drug that grants super-speed, Roscoe’s now out and on the streets. And with his optimistic, “you can do anything if you put your mind to it” worldview shattered, Roscoe’s only in it for himself, Rosa and Chevy. But while you can see what’s about to happen next, part of what makes “MPH” #2 work so well is seeing it all play out, courtesy Mark Millar and Duncan Fegredo.
Millar isn’t playing his cards close to his chest here, and that’s actually somewhat of a relief. I’m not saying that there aren’t some potential fake-outs built into the story (Hal’s responses to Roscoe’s confrontation could be a sign of a different betrayal than the one Roscoe thinks happened, for example, and I’m still waiting for the entire series to go full-circle in regards to the opening sequence of the first issue), but rather it doesn’t seem to be the purpose to plant the “gotcha!” card on us. Instead, Millar’s focusing on Roscoe’s character and how someone whose life has been shattered and what he’d do next.
It’s believable, and despite the fact that he’s performing all sorts of crimes, it’s actually an empathetic depiction of the character. Part of it is how well Millar brings Roscoe’s frustration to the page; for someone who had decided to deal drugs just long enough to build up seed money for a legitimate business, Roscoe’s works. Maybe it’s because it’s less about the specific bad decision that Roscoe made, and more about the feeling of betrayal that Roscoe’s feeling. The world has turned against him, and suddenly he has the chance to flip it all back around.
But even more importantly, Millar presents a world where super-speed is genuinely fun. The “one step ahead of you” scene with Roscoe and Hal is a good start, but once Rosa and Chevy are in on the action, Millar and Fegredo elevate it to the next level. I love how they bring to the page the wonder of moving so quickly. The surreal depiction of raindrops as glass balls hovering around them looks enchanting thanks to Fegredo, for example, and Roscoe’s clowning around at the Indy 500 is remarkably touching thanks to the childish grins and poses from him and Chevy.
Fegredo’s art is in many ways the secret weapon of “MPH,” with a perfect mix of cartoonish and realistic drawings. Fegredo doesn’t cut any corners here; every panel is beautifully composed, and he’s able to take moments like Rosa walking off the edge of the Empire State Building and make it feel both dizzying and enthralling. And when they head back to Detroit, the look on Rosa’s face as she deals with the gangs? Bullseye. That look that mixes boredom and disgust is just gorgeous.
“MPH” is zipping along quite nicely, another recent jewel in Millar’s crown. Between this, “Starlight,” and “Jupiter’s Legacy,” it feels like he’s pushed his career up to the next level. Wherever Millar and Fegredo want to zoom off to next in “MPH,” I’ll be in hot pursuit. This is a winner.