Leaving Megalopolis is a Kickstarted OGN re-teaming Secret Six collaborators Gail Simone, Jim Calafiore and Jason Wright. It’s a survival horror story set in a city taken over by crazed superheroes. I generally enjoy Gail Simone’s work and have a special affection for Secret Six and her short run on Deadpool/Agent X. I backed the Kickstarter at the $15.00 level, which entitled me to a copy of the OGN. Leaving Megalopolis started as an 80 page soft cover but ended up a 112 page hardcover with an expanded main story and a backup written and drawn by Calafiore.
Leaving is almost relentlessly grim. It deals with a group of survivors making their way through a destroyed city, picking up and losing folks along the way, trying to avoid the crazed “heroes” and violent groups of humans. Tonally I’d say it’s pretty close to Avatar’s Crossed series, though the content is not nearly as explicit. The main character is a policewoman named Mina and the antagonist that looms large is Overlord, “The Man of Granite”. Mina’s only reluctantly heroic for most of the story. There are flashbacks that illuminate her personality and choices, but it’s not hard to guess how she’ll change come the end. The rest of the survivors are pretty loosely sketched and the crazed heroes even less so.
I bought Leaving hoping for more Secret Six-type dark humor than I got. The Kickstarter pitch described the book as a “graphic novel of suspense and terror in a superhero universe gone horribly wrong,” so I’m aware that this is a failure of my expectations. That said, I didn’t really enjoy the book. I didn’t find any of the characters particularly interesting or likeable, the violence wasn’t innovative (with the exception of some unique things from the speedster, Fleet), and the heroes were of the general “recognizable Big 2 hero BUT EVIL” variety. It did have some entertaining moments though; the flashbacks to Mina growing up in her grandmother’s care were well-scripted and emotional, a few prose pages in the style of Congressional testimony gave us a look into the government’s response to the crisis, and there were the afore-mentioned bits with Fleet. But overall, I felt the story lacked the tension it needed; all the characters were at risk but I didn’t particularly care if they lived or died.
The best part of the book was the art team of Calafiore and Jason Wright on colors. Calafiore does a great job showing the devastation to Megalopolis in the opening pages, from tanks thrown through buildings to a full page shot of Mina walking down a destroyed avenue. His character design for the heroes, both before and after they go crazy, is impressive. While their power-sets may mimic popular concepts, their appearance is fairly distinctive. Wright delivers on colors in a story that has a lot of gore, detailed backgrounds, and a main group of characters that needs to be recognizable and individually distinctive as they appear and disappear.
Overall, Leaving Megalopolis is a well-crafted book that just didn’t hold my interest. The “superheroes gone crazy” concept was better executed in Mark Waid’s Irredeemable and Pete Tomasi’s The Mighty, and Garth Ennis’ Crossed work remains my high water mark for survival horror. If you’re a fan of Simone’s darker tendencies you may find Leaving worthwhile but, for me, it offered little that I feel like I haven’t seen before.