In its 6th issue, Joe Keatinge’s “Hell Yeah” seems to almost reinvent itself, taking on a new status quo while remaining just as fun and inspired in its love for super heroes as ever.
“Hell Yeah” is still a suspect title for this comic book though. Sorry, everyone.
Written by Joe Keatinge
Illustrated by Andre Szymanowicz & Fabio Redivo
“THE LOST SUPER-VILLAINS OF MARS,” Part One
ALL-NEW STORYLINE! ALL-NEW COVER ARTIST! SAME MULTIVERSE-SHATTERING ACTION!
Twenty-five years ago Earth’s first superheroes appeared, but no one knew about the villains. They’ve been hiding, waiting, planning and all these years later, they’re coming.
PLUS: HELL YEAH is packed to the brim with even more backup stories than ever before, featuring the most exciting up-and-coming talent today, including another exciting installment of TIGER LAWYER! No interior ads – HELL YEAH is all-comics, all the time!
Joe Keatinge isn’t trying to play games with you. Super-villains on Mars have been promised and goddamned super-villains on Mars, you shall have. “Hell Yeah”‘s hero, Benjamin Day, wakes up to a world where superheroes fight amongst one another, the villains are exiled, and the mysterious organization he works for tries to manipulate all of them. He also wakes up to a nude super-lady whose name he can’t remember. One imagines that having been unwillingly thrust into a heroes’ role requires some stress relief.
He is soon whisked away from his post-carnal situation by his boss, which is never something you want to happen. Ben is sent to Mars on an “information gathering” mission regarding the supervillains that took refuge there. You can probably guess that he doesn’t just drop down on Mars, grab some details from the helpful villains and return home, right? After the issue hits the title page, it becomes pure, bounding cape book action with the blood and guts dialed up a little bit for very evocative effect. Even in these moments, Keatinge grounds our hero, putting the “human” before the “super” with a few quiet introspective touches.
That’s the beauty of “Hell Yeah” though. Ben has access to thousands of dimensions and incredible power, yet there’s a vein of humanity running through the book at all times. Ben is a normal guy who happens to be very talented. Keatinge writes him as a young man coming to terms with and figuring out who he is while avoiding the easy trap of making him into an angsty man-child who whines about it. He writes with an authentic naturalism (that sounds like a redundancy, but it’s not) that a lot of young writers don’t find this good of a balance with. He fumbles through awkward conversations, he asks his laser-blasting neighbors to quiet down, and they take aspirin for their hangovers. When was the last time Superman needed a Tylenol? Ben admits that his superhuman world is like any other world; filled with people just trying to get by. That’s another thing that Keatinge does so well. He can take one pin and place it in the Warren Ellis end of the spectrum with his superhero futurism, while keeping a thread very much grounded in the emotions and actions of the average human being. Ben is really your average guy who happens to be very talented. At cape stuff, that is.
What might be most exciting is the way that artist Andre Szymanowicz has progressed over 6 issues and how much inker Fabio Redivo smoothes things out. As enjoyable as the book was, the art started out a bit flat and conventional, though solid. As Keatinge developed the story toward metatextual places that required Szymanowicz to do more, he rose to the challenge and got better with every issue. With the addition of Redivo, we have a whole new layer to the professionalism of the art. It’s a testament to the pairing that this is not clearly a case of an inker taking over pencils and warping them into his own style. These characters and environments are very much the ones that Szymanowicz began with. Smoothing is the word that best describes the effect.
One area that could have been smoothed out a little more was in the depiction of blood, which has been prevalent throughout this series’ run. Given the gratuitous nature of the material, it is obviously intended to look realistic necessarily. Given that Keatinge is a huge Quentin Tarantino fan, this aspect is surely endorsed by the writer. Still, the thick, globular nature of the blood makes for an odd effect. Realism is not always the goal, but the odd appearance of the blood in “Hell Yeah” doesn’t always do full justice to the brutality of the blows. That said, the creep-factor moments or the shocking spreads are done full justice and are definitely head-turning.
“Hell Yeah” is one of the best in a line of modern superhero comics that act as “love letters” to the genre while modernizing it. Keatinge’s commitment to keeping the main character grounded in reality as well as Szymanowicz’s commitment to improving on his work and rising to each new task give way to a book that doesn’t just want your money. “Hell Yeah” wants to work to deserve your money. And it does.
Final Verdict: 8.5 – Jump on here.