Writer: Tim Seely
Artist: Jim Terry
Publisher: Dark Horse
There’s a familiar refrain in Batman comics that you’d have to be absolutely crazy to perform the types of superheroics that Bruce Wayne engages in on a daily basis. The Joker is constantly reassuring the Caped Crusader that they’re cut from the same cloth and that good ol’ Bats is just as psychologically disturbed as the rest of Gotham’s criminals loitering the halls of Arkham Asylum. This is far from exclusive to Batman. Those who find themselves putting on tights and capes, from Spider-Man to Daredevil, at some point question what exactly they’re doing. Long-time superhero comics readers take it for granted, but if we’re being honest, donning a costume to fight evil is strange behavior.
This is the fertile ground that “Sundowners #1,” the first issue of an all-new series from Dark Horse Comics, begins to explore. The Sundowners is a support group for caped crusaders, treating their so-called heroism as an affliction and offering recovery along the lines of Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s highly possible that the group leader and founder of the Sundowners club is in it as a get-rich quick scheme (“I’ve found a new one!” he excitedly tells an associate). But for the members of the Sundowners, it’s a chance to share their stories and know they’re not alone in this behavior. They aren’t the only heroes in the world.
Of course, heroes is a blurry word here. “Sundowners #1” finds each of the four members from the support group sharing their tales on the streets, and each is as unreliable a narrator as the next. Whether it’s Crowlita assuring the group she saw skulls through men’s heads in a drug-induced party haze, or The Concerned Citizen insisting Reptiliods are controlling everything in our lives as an all-powerful Illimunati, our group host has plenty of psychological ailments to jot down in his notepad. In layman’s terms, this group seems like would-be heroes who have lost control of reality. The Woman In Underpants is convinced that her capacity for doing good is only fueled by committing sins, which she refers to as “sin juice.” As a result, she’s an obsessive-compulsive kleptomaniac with a car full of stolen goods and the belief that she has the strength of Samson flowing through her. Meanwhile, the Concerned Citizen appears to murder an “informant” but is convinced the Reptiliods got to the body before it hit the ground. If these are our heroes, who needs villains?
The concept, plotting, and story-telling style of “Sundowners #1” promises an excellent series moving forward. The support group sharing format offers the potential of a near infinite variety of back stories and origins intertwined among the backdrop of a Sundowners meeting. Additionally, it’s everyone’s aim for a comic book series to craft complex and flawed heroes like The Watchmen, but it’s daring to call into question the sanity of every hero in the title. The end result is a Dark Horse title with an excitingly unpredictable narrative and huge potential. We’ve seen Dark Horse tackle addiction and disorder with impressive clarity during the four-issue Buzzkill miniseries, and Sundowners is looking to pick up where that excellent concept left off.
As concept comics go, “Sundowners #1” feels unique, fresh, and refreshingly lucid. The Sundowners creative team seems to know exactly what they want this series to be and that shows in the cohesive finished product. There are all sorts of new comic book titles to try out these days, but based on the first issue, I highly recommend you give Sundowners a shot.
“Sundowners #1” earns 9.3 / 10