There are few comics that get a full 10-10-10 rating on our resident podcast Tales From The Water Cooler. It’s a select group which features the likes of Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples’ Saga. Guess what else is on that list? Dark Horse’s The Paybacks #1. It’s rare for a comic today to hit all the notes that we are looking for, but Cates, Shaw, & company have successfully pulled it off.
We buzzed over Buzzkill which they did a while back, so we were pleasantly surprised to see that they were revisiting the same world in this book. In the first issue, Cates and Rahal do a masterful job of introducing a group of super-powered individuals, all who are forced into service after they fail to repay loans to a secret benefactor for all their super-hero stuff. We have Night Knight, a Batman analog in this world, who gets his stuff repossessed by the group the Paybacks, which includes Emory Rains, the vampiric leader, Bloodpouch, the ’90s reject, Skisquatch, the comic relief and muscle, the Soviet Nunchuck, the Blade-quoting Russian martial artist, Miss Adventure, who carries a troublesome secret, and Driver, the…uh…driver. Repossessing super-heroes is a busy job, so it takes the group all over the place to fight and reclaim the mysterious Mr. Pierce’s belongings. It’s a fun idea which, coupled with the incredible humor of Cates and Rahal, along with excellent action and adventure, makes this exactly what the doctor ordered. And by doctor, I mean Doctor Blaqk, the sorcerer sublime who first appeared in Buzzkill.
The second issue picks up right where the first left off. They’ve recruited Night Knight, and Mr. Pierce sends the team to this world’s Justice League, The Command, led by Superman-ish High Guard. More hilarity ensues as Night Knight discovers more about the Paybacks and how they get their equipment. However, things get bumpy when they take on the Command headlong, which sends Night Knight further on a quest to discover secrets of his teammates.
This issue continues to move these characters forward in a fun way. In a time where you think just about every idea with super-heroes has been done, this one pleasantly surprises. It also helps that it is drawn by the amazing Geoff Shaw who can draw action and characters with supreme deftness. His comedic timing is also perfect which helps keep the tone light. This book doesn’t take itself so seriously, and that is its greatest strength. Paradoxically, that tone is what helps me take this book seriously.
If you’re not reading this, you need to be. It’s quite possibly one of the best books that you’re not reading. Save some money on yet another Avengers book and buy The Paybacks today!
The Comic Book Clergyman