Comic Publishers

May 28, 2014

A look at ‘Suicide Risk’ from BOOM! Studios


Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

-Abraham Lincoln


What do you think is the most common shared fantasy of human existence? Most people would say that there are only really two good answers. Sex and Power; the two things that humanity craves absolutely regardless of culture or time period. Every great crime and greater achievement can probably have its genesis traced to those two most primal motivators and (for better or worse) it is the need for sex and power that conjoins us each into the tapestry of the collective human experience. Mike Cary and Boom Studio’s Suicide Risk tells a tale of seduction and revenge using a using a bit of the former and a heavy dose of the latter. Interweaving sex and power into one of the most original and refreshing intelligent titles you’ll read this year.

The main story in Suicide Risk focuses on Leo Winters, a good cop and family man struggling to stay alive in the sudden advent of super crime. When his partner is severely injured in a confrontation with a group of super criminals who rip through a city street in broad daylight, and even take the life of one of the city’s few heroes, Leo is forced to reconsider his place in the world.

What good is a regular man in a world where a number of criminals can fly at will, control minds with ease, and steal life with a kiss?

A lead in a case involving a super criminal leads him to a pair of  low level crooks who claim to be able to do the unbelievable: give others superpowers…for a price. The question then becomes what would you do for superpowers and then what do you do once you have them. The series hit its twelfth issue with a story line that flows back and forth between Leo Winter’s descent into the world of power and revenge and vignettes that fill in the background on some of the key players and their motivations, as well as providing the slightest glimpse into the overarching conspiracy that connects Leo, his family, the worst of the super criminals, and the most unsuspecting of the innocents in a web that goes much deeper than any of them can even imagine.

With a narrative that takes Leo across the globe (and potentially a lot farther than that), creator Mike Carey portrays the iconic superhero showdown in a new shade of dark. He does this by telling his tale through the eyes of the non-powered people who live in the storm of superhuman existence and find themselves left wanting in its wake. Suicide Risk reads like a cross between Bendis’s Powers and Coppola’s Apocalypse Now with just a light touch of Total Recall thrown in for flavor, yet manages to balance the bombast of super battles with the subtle emotional complexity and depth of plot Carey showcased on his DC/Vertigo title Lucifer. The tale of Suicide Risk is realized beautifully by Elena Casagrande’s gorgeous art work. An Italian artist whose amazing lines can be seen in books like Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 1 and Hack/Slash, Casagrande gives each panel of Suicide Risk a crisp feel. Dealing with characters that could have been portrayed as simple pastiches in the hands of a lesser artist, Casagrande adds her unique flair to give each character a more sinister feel than is seen in other titles.

The series, which at the time of publication, just published its 13th issue, has two trade paperbacks on the shelves, and the collections are great starting off points for anyone looking to play some quick catch up before seeing what Carey and Casagrande have in store for the next twelve issues. Not to mention you can pick up Vol. 1 of Suicide Risk on Amazon for under $10. At that price you’re screwing yourself over by NOT buying it. Leo Winter’s journey through what it means to have power has been one of the highlights on book shelves that see many great writer putting out compelling work but being overshadowed by the latest big event that companies like Marvel or DC are pushing out for public consumption, only to have the story lines reticoned in six months because meaningful permanent loss and real character development doesn’t play as well in the cheap seats. Suicide Risk shows definitively that superhero stories can be both epic in scope and grown up in attitude while still kicking ass.  Now I’m not saying don’t pay four dollars an issue to see  plotlines ripped from the 80’s version of Dallas, but while you’re out there in the comic shops throw some money BOOM Studios’ way and pick up Suicide Risk.

You can stop fantasizing; It’s sex and power done right for a change.


Perfect Cruelty


One Comment

  1. Joe Samalin

    Great piece, thanks. Can’t wait to read the series!

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