“Let me give you some advice. Don’t try to be a hero. It never ends well.”
For years companies like DC and Marvel have tried in vein to throw backup stories or extra content into some of their overpriced issues to justify, I suppose, one: a high price point, and two: a satisfactory story experience for the reader. They have been muddled more often than not, feeling like afterthoughts and rushed ideas. What makes a comic like Anti-Hero interesting is that it is about the size of one of those big hitter backups (this issue clocking in at eight pages of content) and accomplishes what has eluded those higher profile stories with iconic characters—giving the reader a good comic story and experience with some substance.
The world of Anti-Hero is like many other super-hero or meta-human universes, filled with good and bad capes, creeps, and science freaks. What this installment brings is a large question of what does a hero do when being blackmailed about their identity? Anti-hero is, in two very short issues, shaping up to be a story that is a tragedy but not in a large, overblown, operatic Watchmen kind of way. The tragedy is in seeing how someone who has strong morals and ethics is being tortured by someone without any, who knows that they can manipulate based on the code of conduct they follow in life—like Iago to Othello—although Paragon could not be so lucky for it to be someone so close to him who is making him suffer; instead, his manipulation comes from a low level thug. Did I mention that all of this is communicated in eight pages of comic work?
The art of Nate Stockman augmented by Paul Little and Charles Pritchett renders a bright, colorful world for Faerber’s characters to be in. I like that the art of Anti-Hero is like the idea in the film Blue Velvet; that is, to show the bright colors and the nice places and introduce the unsettling aspect that the bad people of the world are there, skulking around in-between the white picket fences and rose bushes. The opening scene, which you can see just below, is fun, and the way the story moves so crisply between story beats and character feelings (light to dark) is a very difficult trick, which the creators pull off.
Is “Anti-hero #2” short? Yes? Is it affordable? Yes. Does it leave you wanting some more? Absolutely.