I suspect a lot of you still aren’t reading “The Mighty.” That’s too bad, because this comic has become something much darker and more twisted than I ever expected, and it’s a very good monthly read from Tomasi and Champagne.
Chris Samnee has replaced Peter Snejbjerg on the art, although Samnee’s has altered his style a bit so the transition to his work has been a smooth one. Samnee uses a thicker holding line here, and faces that are more open, which isn’t a drastic difference from his other work on “Daredevil” and “Dead of Night,” but it keeps the visual consistency of this series intact. Apparently, Samnee is scheduled to continue drawing this series through issue #12 at least, possibly longer if sales warrant. Sales should warrant. People should be scooping up this disturbing look at the superhuman. They don’t seem to be, but it’s a comic worthy of your attention.
It began as a comic about a kind of Superman (and by “kind of Superman,” I mean a guy who is obviously Superman, but with a different name and costume) and the paramilitary support team who helps him out. It was kind of “Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen,” but more bureaucratic — more corporate, with the first issue centering around human Gabriel Cole and his promotion to leader of, in effect, the Superman Support Squad. Things seemed a bit off about this Superman, Alpha One, from the beginning. He didn’t always seem to save people, first of all, or he saved the ones that made him look good and hurried the deaths of others. And in recent issues, we’ve found that Alpha One is far more sinister than we ever imagined.
By this issue, “The Mighty,” even with its clean-looking interior art, has become a horror comic. Alpha One is terrifying, and as Gabriel Cole uncovers more and more secrets about the past, his world begins to come crashing down around him. It’s kind of like “All the Presidents Men,” except with Richard Nixon as the world’s most beloved superman. Oh, and this Richard Nixon — this Alpha One Superman — is as brutally violent as he is devious.
There’s a scene near the end where Alpha One interrogates a terrorist in front of Captain Cole. As the terrorist confusedly explains — in his own language, helpfully translated for the reader — that he’s building this bomb because he works for Alpha One, the “hero” purposely mistranslates for Captain Cole: “He just told my mother to do something horrible with a camel. I don’t think he’ll give us the name of his supplier willingly.” He crushes the bones, snaps the fingers, of the supposed terrorist, as the injured man cries, “why are you doing this? Why are you punishing me?” “And there’s the name we need,” says the malevolent superhero, doing anything but upholding truth, justice, and the American way.
It’s not that “The Mighty” is a commentary on Superman, it’s that “The Mighty” uses our preconceptions about Superman — and the role of the superhuman hero — to subvert our expectations, and it tells a hell of an intriguing story.
Will Captain Cole turn the tables on Alpha One? Will he survive the inevitable showdown between the two of them? Who will live and who will die? These are questions that compel me to read this comic each month, because Tomasi, Champagne, and Samnee know what they’re doing here. And they’re doing it well.