Review by Nolan P. Smith
For Mature Readers
(Victor Valley)—Wouldn’t it be cool to have superpowers? To right the wrongs in this world, to use your superhuman strength to stop violence in an instant; I think at one time or another, we all wish we could be more than a normal human. But we don’t think of the flip side of that coin- what are the repercussions for your feats of “heroism”? What happens when life spirals further and further out of control to where there’s no turning back? That is the premise for the We Can Never Go Home, the hit series from Black Mask Studios, which is now available in a collected edition.
Written by Matthew Rosenberg (12 Reasons to Die) & Patrick Kindlon (Quake: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary) and art by Josh Hood (Venom) & Brian Level (The Mantle), this collected edition has all five issues of this very surreal story. The center of this story falls to two teenagers, Duncan and Madison, who come together in a very unexpected way. Duncan, a loner outsider, and Madison, a popular girl with a future, end up being forced into situations neither would have expected.
Madison has powers, and it’s those powers that propel our two protagonists into a world of violence and danger. After an accident that leaves one person dead, Duncan and Madison go on the run- two kids, a car, a mixtape and the open road. Sounds great, right? Well, if this were a glamorized story of unbelievable incidents, then this would be the start of an adventure filled with love, loyalty and accepting change. That’s not what this is- this is something far better.
Violence plays a huge part in this story, as does its repercussions. Both Madison and Duncan make some poor choices, choices that live up to the title- they can never go home. This is something that should be applauded in comic books- I love superhero books as much as the next person, but to see a book that shows that heroes can’t punch their way out of everything, it’s refreshing. The themes of this story are clear- its about life, its about accepting who you are and the mistakes you have made, and that violence is not the answer. The danger is real, and escalates like a fire at a gas station; as the local authorities, drug dealers, and other super humans hunt the two teens. How can the duo survive, and is surviving even a possibility?
The art here is superb: I don’t believe I have read a book with Hood and Level’s art, but I will be on the lookout now. The style for this book fits perfectly- from the moments between Duncan and Madison to the fight scenes where Madison let’s loose, as does Duncan from time to time, it fits the story perfectly. Rosenberg and Kindlon have written an amazing story here- by the end of it, I wanted to see what happens next. It feels like a modern day superhero tragedy, but still with a spin all its own. We Can Never Go Home is brutal, eye opening take on superheroes, and should be squarely placed on the list of “Best Comic Books of 2015”.