Happy New Comic Book Day! For this week’s nerdy Wednesday post, I’m so excited to be able to review the graphic novel, Leaving Megalopolis by Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore. Just to give some of you a bit of background, in case you’re unfamiliar with their works, they’re two of the industry’s absolute best creators. Gail Simone wrote the series that got me obsessed with comics, Birds of Prey. I also loved her Wonder Woman run. She’s currently writing Batgirl, Tomb Raider and Red Sonja. She teamed up with Jim Calafiore for Secret Six. Their run will go down as one of the best ones in comic book history. Seriously. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I genuinely feel sorry for you because you’re missing out.
You can probably tell by now that I’m a very big fan of this duo, so when they announced that they’re teaming up again for an original project, I could not pledge on Kickstarter fast enough. I didn’t even read the premise, I just knew it had to be good with them involved. Oh and the commission reward by Jim didn’t hurt either.
Of course it got funded, how could it not. And now came the waiting game. I live in Canada, so I knew it would probably be awhile before I got my copy. It was torture seeing everyone tweeting about theirs when mine hadn’t come yet. I avoided all reviews. Finally, lo and behold, right after I buy Gail’s Red Sonja trade, a package arrived! Here it was at last in all its glory.
I devoured it in one sitting, half an hour tops. I had pretty high expectations and it exceeded all of them. I’ve been looking for something like this for awhile now. Lately my love for comics has wavered but this book brought it all back. Let me start with the art (hey, that rhymed!). Jim has truly outdone himself. I honestly don’t know where to begin. Do I talk about how amazing the action scenes were drawn? Do I focus on the uniqueness he brought to each individual character, even if they’re just for background? Do I mention the authenticity of all their facial expressions? Do I go on and on about how much detail each and every panel has? I’m blown away by how gorgeous the book is. Of course credit must also be given to their colorist Jason Wright and letterer Dave Sharpe.
Now, onto the story and the characters. I was a bit hesitant at first since I loved Secret Six so much, I thought I’d be reading this and just wishing that they had just done that instead. I didn’t want to be introduced to other characters because they wouldn’t be as good as Scandal, Catman, Deadshot, Bane, Jeannette and Rag Doll. I’m happy to report that I fell in love with Megalopolis’ band of misfits just as hard. Mina is the heart of the book and I think she’s awesome. She’s not an anti-hero or a typical heroine but somewhere in between. Her backstory is told very well. Given the limited number of pages, they concentrated on Mina but the other characters still felt fleshed out in their own way.
What’s the plot? The gist of it is that this once safe and beautiful city is now left in ruins when something caused its superheroes to become maniacal killers. So instead of saving people and protecting them, they now have a craving for death and destruction. It’s an interesting premise to say the least. This book is very dark, closer to Secret Six than Birds of Prey for sure. There’s a lot of violence but unlike the some of the hyper-violent comics out there, this one comes across as more realistic and gritty, less torture porn. It’s not violence just for the sake of violence, it actually makes sense to the story and stays true to the characters. As befitting Gail, there are twists and turns that I won’t ruin.
To sum up, this book freaking rocked. If you’re looking for something original, reminiscent of Secret Six, fast-paced and enjoyable, you have to read this. The art is magnificent and the writing is pure Gail, weird and twisted one minute then tugging at your heartstrings the next. Brilliant. So when’s the next volume coming out? I can’t wait to discover more the characters and the world they’ve created.