(A classic review that previously appeared on the now defunct Geeks Unleashed page.)
From Image Comics, Mark Millar, Duncan Fegredo, Peter Doherty.
Holy crap! I mean seriously, holy crap! I understand that not everyone loves Mark Millar. They feel he’s gone off the deep end or believes his own hype. The Ultimate Universe really fell apart at the end but was ground breaking at first. Wanted is a horrible movie but a brilliant comic. Kick Ass is, come on its Kick Ass! Its so over the top you have to love it.
Into all of this comes the MPH graphic novel. This has to be the most verbal comic book reading experience I’ve ever had.
I wonder if this is what’s really going on?
Wouldn’t it be cool if he actually did that.
Oh no way!
You gotta be kidding me.
I knew it!
Wow, I never saw that coming.
Through five issues, all collected in this nice package, Millar and Fegredo establish this slight change in the world we know and literally run with it. This is the best use of speed in a Mark Millar comic since Sonic the Hedgehog.
The story starts in that bygone era known as 1986. A man travelling at near light speed appears and crashes through state after state in an attempt to slow down. After crashing into a factory strong enough to stop him a new uncertain era begins for the world. The first super hero has arrived, only known as Mr Springfield and carrying a bottle labeled MPH. The world waits in terror for more super beings to arrive.
Thirty years later the wait is over.
Nothing screams downtown Detroit of today like a drug seller who has read The Secret. Roscoe Rodriguez isn’t just your everyday criminal. He has plans and a dream board. He’s banking this drug money then turning it into a respectable business out in California with his lady. He’s a visionary.
He is also a man set up to fall. While in prison his dream board continues to grow. Rodriguez has a goal and his 5-10 year plan involves getting out of jail early then pursing those dreams in a more legal way. Again everything comes crashing down around him. This time its more difficult to get back up. Roscoe retreats into a world all to easy in prison. When offered drugs he selects the unknown, the mysterious pill labeled MPH.
Roscoe’s body begins to change as the drug takes hold. He has to force his mind to keep up. Once mind and body are again at the same speed, Rodriguez understands that he is moving between seconds. Between hundredths of seconds. Roscoe leaves prison and the bottle of MPH goes with him. He does what anyone who has been wronged and jailed would do with super powers: Destroys his enemies, gets rich, and raises up those he loves.
Alright not anyone. Roscoe is a fascinating character. He does what needs to be done to achieve his goals but never sees himself as a criminal or a bad guy. He is a means to an end thinker. A Robin Hood for a new era. A man who has seen what drugs and greed have done to his home in Detroit and now with great power wants to make someone responsible.
Then things get crazy. If you have had your eyes open in the last five years you’ll see that those with money don’t get punished but those without do. Roscoe tries to rectify that and gets the attention of all in power, who now want to shut him and his friends down. This battle grows to involve banks, government, secret organizations, time travel, betrayals, and the aforementioned mysterious Mr Springfield.
MPH is one of the best times I’ve had reading a comic. Great characters, beautiful art and a wonderful engaging story. The kind of story you’re sad to finish but grateful that talented people got together to create it. I’m a better person for reading MPH, it brought me joy and has opened my mind to not only how to portray powers in comics but also character interaction. Word is that MPH is already optioned for a movie and if a half of the dialogue and images make it from page to screen this will be a hit.