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The Knight's Shelf: Mystery Men #4

Written by Linwood Earl Knight on Tuesday, August 30 2011 and posted in Reviews

With the story moving toward its climax, both the Mystery Men and their enemies are kicking things up a notch. Are our heroes prepared for both the depravity of their enemies and intra-group that's ready to explode? The answers are just a click away as one of the best mini-series of the summer rolls along.

Comic Review Cover

Credits & Solicit Info:

Writer: David Liss
Artist: Patrick Zircher
Andy Troy
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Production: Manny Meredos


As the end game gets closer and closer, the Mystery Men are pushed to the limits of the abilities and morality. What happens when our heroes realize that things aren't as simple as they want them to be? The answer is yet another reason why this is one of the most compelling comics of the year.


As an enthusiast of American History, it's very easy for me to see why the "Costumed Avenger" became an overnight sensation in the 1930s. With the Great Depression bringing untold suffering and misery to millions of its people, America not only needed something to rally around, but something to distract itself from its troubles. With no shortage of villains (ranging from mobsters, to Corrupt Politicians, to even Radical Religious movements) to save the day from, the heroes featured in those tales became not just something to aspire to, but a generator of hope, which was definitely in short supply. It is these elements (among others) that have made "Mystery Men" one of the most amazing reads this summer. Does Mystery Men #4 add to the lore that's being built? It most surely does.


From the minute I first picked up this title, one of things that intrigued me was how The Revenant was going to be handled. Of course, said intrigue was accompanied with concern, due to the balancing act that accompanies writing this character based on the realities of the period. A lesser writer could easily make the character excessively angry, or completely gloss over the reality of what his life would be like, with both results weakening the story in question. Thankfully, neither situation is in the cards here as David Liss is able to do the dramatic character design justice from all angles.

With the spotlight on Ezekiel Wright, the reader is primarily allowed to access the circumstances that made this man become The Revenant. As the story progresses, the strong writing allows the reader to truly understand how the openly institutionalized racism of the time period not only robbed him of fame and fortune, but helped to shape his character. Despite living in a world whose structure was meant to keep him under a glass ceiling, Ezekiel is a man that possesses equal parts courage, intelligence and rationality.  Through those qualities, we can see why The Revenant has become the moral awareness of his team, as he shows us the true gravity of the lines that these 5 pioneers have to cross in the name of justice, adding yet another element of tragedy to the proceedings.

As for the rest of the story itself, one of the things that makes "Mystery Men" such a compelling read is how the Depression era has shaped the world around our heroes. With such themes as justice, redemption, guilt, loss, love and revenge coming into play, this story has become quite the meaty and challenging read.  Along with those themes, this chapter of the story emphasizes greatly on hope. In 1932, hope was at a premium that really couldn't be described in words and it is through our heroes desire to give such things to people that the right amount of resonance is created for their exploits to matter to the reader. At the same time, our villains exploit the world at large from the sheer lack of hope that is present in this era and by doing so, it makes you want to see them go down that much harder, something that's going to make the final issue quite satisfying.


Whenever you have a period title like "Mystery Men", the work can either be enhanced, saved, diminished or possibly destroyed by how the art team to depict the world they've been commissioned to draw, something that's definitely not lost on this team. As with the other 3 issues, Patrick Zitcher shows an accomplished hand in portraying a world that can be alluring on both expansive (his drawing of the New York City Skyline is pitch perfect) and intimate scales, as the character drawings are both great to look at and help to add to the story with pitch perfect emotional depictions. It should also be noted that Andy Troy has definitely gone beyond the call of duty with his duties on the art, as his varied and masterful use of coloring techniques give many scenes the tone needed to achieve the maximum impact they're trying to portray. As far as the coloring on the characters go, Nox is especially well done, as the colors help to bring out the sheer fear she's supposed to inspire out of those around her. When all is said and done, it's yet another gold star for the Art Team, as well.

My Final 22 Cents:

As the summer comes to a close, I can safely say that this has been quite an underwhelming summer as far as main line Big 2 books go in my eyes. Of course, this isn't saying that either Marvel or DC didn't have books that stood out amongst the crowd, but for every book that felt like a winner, there were at least 5 others that felt shallow, unimaginative and tragically one-dimensional. Thankfully, Mystery Men is so well crafted, that it helps you to forget about the other books that sometimes seems they were created with minimal effort. With its great writing, multi-dimensional story and characterization and amazing art, "Mystery Men" has already secured a nomination for "mini-series" of the year in my eyes. Finally, to those who have yet to jump in, don't wait for the trade, hunt down the first 3 issues to go along with this one, you surely won't regret your decision.

The Verdict:

Writing ****1/2: When you combine a great premise with excellent writing on both the dialogue and story scales, you get yet another reason why David Liss is rapidly becoming one of the best writers in comics today.

Art ****1/2: The art team continues to go beyond the call of duty in giving this world the life it needs to make sure the story has the weight it needs to successful.

Accessibility ****: With a nicely detailed recap page that helps to get new readers up to speed, the contents presented in this issue are quite easy to follow and will surely get the curious ready for the Trade or to hunt the previous issues down. Either way, this issue does what it has to do to get new readers involved.

Final Judgment: ****1/2 (Above and Beyond)

The Knight's Shelf: Mystery Men #4

The Knight's Shelf: Mystery Men #4

The Knight's Shelf: Mystery Men #4

The Knight's Shelf: Mystery Men #4

The Knight's Shelf: Mystery Men #4

The Knight's Shelf: Mystery Men #4

Review by: Linwood Earl Knight

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