Luke Owen reviews the trade paperback release of New Crusaders: Rise of the Heroes...
Have you ever just picked up a comic book in a shop with no prior knowledge of its existence and buy it on a whim? Sometimes you end up with an absolutely brilliant comic that you'll want to read again and again. Or you'll get New Crusaders: Rise of the Heroes, a comic that is really, really fun and entertaining but lacks a certain spark for it to be worthwhile reading again.
The story starts with a nice BBQ party in suburbia where the former (and now retired) Mighty Crusaders are enjoying their new lives. We're introduced to their children who are mostly made up of cliches and stereotypes before being introduced to our main villain - Brain Emperor. In a very dark turn of events for such a bright comic, Brain Emperor kills off every last one of The Mighty Crusaders with the exception of The Shield who then takes the children into custody to train them into becoming superheroes themselves.
The darker moments are written exceptionally well by Ian Flynn (whom I am massive fan of) but we never really feel the true pain of children losing their parents. Many take it badly, but after a while it doesn't seem to matter. This isn't exactly Bruce Wayne material.
What Flynn also does well is dialogue and interactions between characters. His current work on Worlds Collide has been some of the best writing in comics all year and Rise of the Heroes is another example of just how good he can be. The characters are all pretty bland and unimaginative in the sense they're all just a bunch of "tokens", but Flynn does breathe some life into them with well written dialogue.
In the most recent Sonic The Hedgehog, Ben Bates showed off just what a great artist he is and his brilliance shines through here to in the first three issues with Alitha Martinez seemingly following suit for the rest of the story. It's bright and vibrant with well drawn characters who all have their own style. You could argue that the bright style doesn't match the story's dark tones (especially towards the end) but it does work fine.
I don't mean to sound down on this comic because I really did enjoy it. There is a lot of fun to be had and everything in there works perfectly fine. But the problem is that the story lacks a certain dynamic to make it truly gripping. In many ways it's like the direct to DVD movie The Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow, which is perfectly fine but nothing to write home about. If someone lent you New Crusaders: Rise of the Heroes, I think you'll really enjoy it. But I wouldn't recommend going out and buying it.
Luke Owen is one of Flickering Myth's co-editors and the host of the Month in Review show for Flickering Myth's Podcast Network. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.