"Mystery Men" continues to fill the pulp sized hole every comic publisher has, whether they choose to fill it or ignore it. Our renegade heroes from the 1920s continue to climb the ladder of deceit and villainy left behind by the General. This installment takes a few new twists while also dropping a little bit more back story on these all new characters. The title has been a stellar read and this issue doesn't let the quality drop at all.
Team ups are the order of the day, as Achilles and the Surgeon hunt for answers in their own manner, previously deemed a tad too heavy-handed by the central clique of the Mystery Men. Meanwhile, the Operative, the Revenant, and the Aviatrix are acting harsher than they initially intended in order to get quick answers. The General has teamed with Nox, a fear lord, who he feels should be helping him, yet instead he's coming off as the servant. These small relationships work well for their individual scenes and as all are woven together the central plot is tightened. Every character arc is heading toward the same apex and collisions are imminent.
The General is given a perfectly villainous reveal in this issue. The exact whys and hows of his transformation into Lysseus, a werewolf, aren't as important as how wickedly cool he looks thrown into this tale. The initial page throws a very Grindhouse vibe, as if we've suddenly stumbled into "Werenazis of the SS." The placement of Nox in front of Lysseus only helps create a Berni Wrightson vibe. In his new incarnation, the General becomes a deadly adversary. It is nice to be given a different action sequence after seeing the Mystery Men do the usual 'punch and chat' routine over the first issues. David Liss is ensuring this comic doesn't replay any of its glory.
There are two cliffhanger conclusions to this issue. One is exceptionally creepy and pushes the narrative to breaking point for next month's finale. The other is a very shrewd little bit of work tying together the back stories for two of the Mystery Men and driving a wedge between the cohesion of the team. The concepts on display in this title are enough to grab your attention and then Liss' manipulation of the characters truly invest you in the drama.
Patrick Zircher holds the consistency of his art in this issue. His characters always feel well developed, his scenes rich and deep enough. His Nox is eerily attractive; she is a villain who holds a distinct place on the page. The one disappointment is how safe he plays certain elements. The General's transformation is too fluid and slick. This was an opportunity for Zircher to cut loose, test the boundaries of the book, and it doesn't feel like he takes advantage of this opportunity.
"Mystery Men" is putting every loop in front of the rollercoaster ride before we depart the experience. This pulp tale of masks and fists has turned into a dark alley before the final reveal and become a book also full of werewolf teeth and dead baby messengers. Liss and Zircher give us enough to enjoy while ensuring it's a manageable hunk of narrative that will lead to a satisfying conclusion. These characters have come to life quickly and we can only hope for more than just one last issue.