The story that Mark Millar is telling here is a simple one, but as ever, what matters isn’t what the story is, but how it’s told, and he’s telling it really well. It’s full of the charm and fun that Millar’s best work has, and very little of the cynicism that often drags him down.
The story here mostly involves Duke McQueen meeting the young Alien who has come to Earth to bring him back to save the planet Tantalus. This kid, whose name is Krish Moore tells Duke that, after the age of peace that he helped usher in, Tantalus was too civilized and weak to resist being conquered by an evil race called ‘The Broteans’ and their leader ‘The Kingfisher’ and that he needs Duke to come back and help lead the rebels to victory. Duke initially refuses, as he’s an old man, but after thinking it over in the night, he agrees. I like the way Millar deconstructs the Flash Gordon archetype throughout this book. Krish has come to Earth expecting Duke to be as much of a hero here as he is on Tantalus, but nope, more realistically, he’s seen as a crazy joke. I think the key here is that it’s not maliciously realistic, like say, Kick-Ass can get, but just real, and very poignant because of that.
Duke and Krish board the ship, which, in another nice touch is a deliberately retro design, like a classic car, but a space-ship. I also like that Duke initially can’t fly the thing properly. This is an old man character that actually is realistically old. They fly up into space, with Duke not wanting to use a cloaking device so he can stick it to the people who didn’t believe him. But that backfires, as he attracts the attention of some US Airforce Planes who want to bring him in. To avoid this, he hits the hyperdrive, and they warp all the way to Tantalus, and yep, it’s in a bad way. I think Duke McQueen might have bitten off more than he can chew.
Goran Parlov’s art was once again brilliant, Duke McQueen’s face alone brings this title a whole load of pathos, and I really liked the way he drew the alien Krish as looking slightly out of place on Earth. He’s more cartoonish, and his Anime hair is impossible. It’s going to be awesome to see Parlov really cut loose now that the story has fully moved away from Earth.
I think this is the best thing I’ve read from Mark Millar since Superior, (although I am loving Jupiter’s Legacy), it’s the writer at his best, telling a fun, clever story with brilliant art.