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“LEAVING MEGALOPOLIS: SURVIVING MEGALOPOLIS #1” (Comic Book Review)

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Superheroes have been around for as long as comics have been serialized. Righteous, flamboyantly dressed men and women that fight on the side of justice are as much of a staple of the industry as paper and ink. Yet, despite their popularity, it’s just recently that creators started exploring the exploitative side of their godlike power; proving that perhaps Lex Luthor was right when he said “Devils don’t come from the Hell beneath us, they come from the sky.”

Of course, we can’t simply set Superman loose on Metropolis with his eye beams or have Spiderman choking out children in the streets just to make a point, which is why creators Gail Simone and J. Calafiore have created and destroyed their very own superhero team. LEAVING MEGALOPOLIS broke boundaries with its initial release in 2012 (followed by a collected version in 2014) and its newest mini-series, LEAVING MEGALOPOLIS: SURVIVING MEGALOPOLIS, follows in its footsteps as it revisits the survivors of a horrific massacre and forces them right back into the fray.

The initial series focuses on group of people who are attempting to navigate the ruins of a city after a terrifying event. You see, the citizens of Megalopolis, once deemed the safest city in America, are being hunted down by the very people sworn to protect them: superheroes. From mass murder to individual torture sessions, no one was safe from the madness of the monsters above and, with the only clue to their sudden turn-about being a hole in the ground, things were looking bleak indeed. The main characters, Mina (a former cop-turned-mall-security) and Harold Lamb (a tubby businessman) fight with an assembly of others to make out of the city that, for another unknown reason, the heroes can’t leave.

LEAVING MEGALOPOLIS: SURVIVING MEGALOPOLIS starts right where the last arc left off, mere days after the group leave the city. Sitting in a bar, Lamb is approached by a private agent who needs his help navigating the city in a rescue mission to which he reluctantly agrees. Mina, on the other hand, has taken on a new persona and remained in Megalopolis to hunt down the superheroes who had made her life Hell. As both learn to face their own demons, the superheroes themselves seem to have something quite devious up their sleeves as they drag up their fallen leader from the depths of the ocean.

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LEAVING MEGALOPOLIS, both the old and the new mini-series, is incredibly brutal. This is not a dark superhero work; this is a superhero horror work and it maintains the exact standard of guts and blood one would expect in a horror title (that is, a lot). It’s very reminiscent of Garth Ennis’s THE BOYS, addressing the issue that if there is no one to keep superheroes in check, how long before they decide to kill us all? In the case of Megalopolis, not that long. Also, like THE BOYS, it explores the collective mentality of superhero fans and the despair when everything you believed was wrong. It continues into SURVIVING MEGALOPOLIS as well when we are suddenly introduced to a new superhero that, despite the horror, could not leave his dream behind. Will he too succumb to the depressing nature of unlimited power or will he keep true to his path?

One of the other things that really set LEAVING MEGALOPOLIS apart is, like the explosive hive mind, it also attempts to destroy the very core of humanity itself. By putting its characters into life and death situations, it creates a WALKING DEAD atmosphere where you never know who to trust (thankfully without the WALKING DEAD whining.) Neighbors suddenly turn into enemies, friends sacrifice each other to save their own skins, and characters quickly find themselves doing things that they never imagined they would do just to survive. It’s that kind of detail that turns an ordinary work into a horror work, one that fans of horror have come to appreciate in the genre. LEAVING MEGALOPOLIS presents that in spades.

LEAVING MEGALOPOLIS: SURVIVING MEGALOPOLIS is, in every sense, a sequel. The first series ended on a cliffhanger, so it’s highly suggested that the reader picks up the first story arc before diving into this one. The writer, Gail Simone, takes her experience with DC superheroes and creates a work that is downright gruesome. By playing with the archetypical stereotypes of your standard JLA-esque hero group, she takes everything that fans love about them and thoroughly ruins it for you. It’s pretty great. J. Calafiore’s art, while not the standard superhero fare, is very appealing for the story. The design work is solid, but the inking is a bit shaky, giving some of the panels a wonky look.

LEAVING MEGALOPOLIS: SURVIVING MEGALOPOLIS #1 will be hitting shelves on the 13th via Dark Horse Comics, but, as mentioned, try to pick up the first book. You will not be disappointed.

About the author
Svetlana Fedotov http://facebook.com/vladkicksass
Svetlana Fedotov hails from the wild woods of the Pacific Northwest. She loves horror and comic books, and does her best to combine those two together at any cost. She also writes for the horror site Brutal as Hell and sometimes for the magazine Delirium. Svetlana has recently released her first novel, Guts and Glory, under the pen name S.V. Fedotov on Amazon digital.
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