The new book from Mahoney’s Rich Carrington is a slice of classic superhero action wrapped up in a glorious ‘what if’ concept and is now funding on Kickstarter. But does this tale of a hero with finite powers run out of juice before the climactic ending, or does it have enough in the tank to save the day?
Publisher: Hardline Comics
Writer: Rich Carrington
Artist: Lee Gaston
Price: Funding now on Kickstarter
Rich Carrington’s Mahoney’s is one of those small press superhero comics which proves our rule about indie superhero comic, that it is possible to write original stories without relying on shock and gore, post-modern parody or political posturing – you just have to do that certain something which makes you stand out from the crowd. Whether that is a great character or a unique concept, there is still plenty of miles left in the genre!
This is why we loved Mahoney’s and Limits is another great example of fun and fresh superhero story telling. Sam Carter is our hero Dynaman who gets his powers from a pair of ion bracelets. The first part of the book see him go through the all too familiar origins story, but Rich gives it a nice mix of grounded realism (it feels like it could be happening in the real world) but there is enough fantastic-ness to make it feel like a comic book adventure. After the inevitable battles with evil terrorists (we liked the fact it didn’t go straight to super powered villains) Carter becomes the hero of the day, however after a battle with the diabolical Dr Sinister he discovers his bracelets only have a finite amount of power – as they are man made and not magical or alien – and seeing as the professor who invented them is no more, then he can’t simply top them up! So what should he do!?
What then follows is a really great story about what would a hero do if they knew they only had a finite amount of power. This concept allows Carrington to play with humorous elements (such as Carter taking a plane ride home to save power) but also human drama (like the guilt at not making the save and people losing their lives as result of his choices). Essentially it play out like a mixture of Superman 2 and a Marvel ‘What If’ issue, with shades of Invincible thrown in for good measure.
Carrington is clearly leaning heavily into the classics, in particular vintage Man of Steel, but at a time when the main DC version (along with a lot of other classic heroes) are bogged down with family dramas or multi-versal ramifications, there is a lot to be said for the simple purity of a story like this. Along with plenty of classic cliches, the heroic and larger than life drama is balanced nicely by Carter’s answer to Lois Lane – reporter girlfriend Molly – and again Carrington handles this humanity superbly, balancing familiar tropes and cliches with a really deft touch of human drama. Again the realism of the situation helps, as Carter isn’t an alien orphan or radioactive insect, he is just a regular guy.
The story is brought to life by artwork from Lee Gaston, who has a wonderful clean line and style to his work. It has a hint of Ryan Ottley’s Invincible (but less gory!), mixed with the more cartoonish feel of Dan Butcher’s Vanguard (but without the digital colouring) and has the cleanness of Darwyn Cooke/Bruce Timm (our perennial favourites!). The colours are a simple primary palette, but are balanced brilliantly to make it feel bright, clean and positive but not too faddy either (as much as we love a retro half tone colour palette it is over done!).
The one shot nature of the story also works brilliantly, giving the story a simple beginning, middle and end, with a logical and emotive ending which fits the concept, but also give the reader a sense of resolution. It reminded us a lot of Accent UK’s Whatever Happened to The World’s Fastest Man, as well as a Matt Garvey’s Red Rocket Comet (but less gritty). And that lack of ‘grit’ is one of our favourite things about this. It’s an unapologetic love letter to classic superheroes, without parodying or poking fun at them. Or simply retreading ideas which have gone before.
If you are looking for that slice of wholesome all action superhero comics, which still has something interesting to say, then this should scratch that itch. It’s the kind of book which you could share with a younger reader without them feeling over awed (there is just one scene which prevents it from being truly all ages, but it is still fairly tame!) and there is enough depth in there for grown ups too.
Despite it’s title Limits is a comic which makes the most of its own limitations to create a story which never runs out of juice and is fully charged with originality and fun throughout!