MPH #1

Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Duncan Fegredo
Publisher: Image Comics

This issue opens in 1986, where we learn that “the world’s first and only superhuman”, known only as Mr. Springfield, went on a superspeed run through several states, causing massive destruction before he finally stopped, his powers having ran out. The only clue the authorities found when they caught Mr. Springfield is an empty pill bottle labeled “MPH”. Springfield was locked away by the U.S. army immediately after, where he’s remained ever since.

Cut to modern day Detroit. A young man named Roscoe is working for a local drug dealer, called Samurai Hal. Hal gives Roscoe a job to go deliver some cocaine to the manager of a rock band that is in town. The deal turns out to be a set-up, and Roscoe is arrested and sentenced to 15 years in jail. The first seven months in jail Roscoe is a model prisoner, determined to earn an early release. Then he finds out from a friend Hal actually set Roscoe up to get arrested, just so Hal could go after Roscoe’s girlfriend Rosa. This causes Roscoe to snap and assault another prisoner, which leads to Roscoe getting 2 weeks in solitary confinement and hurting his chances for early release. Then one of the other prisoners offers Roscoe some drugs, which Roscoe had always avoided before in order to maintain his good record, but now he takes him up on his offer. The prisoner, Cedric, has just gotten a bottle of MPH pills, he doesn’t even know what they are, or where they came from, just that he got it with the rest of his drug supply, but Roscoe takes one anyway and almost immediately keels over. But while Roscoe is being taken to the infirmary by some guards, his perception of time dramatically changes. To him it suddenly seems like everyone and everthing is standing steal, or slowing down to micro-seconds, while Roscoe is able to move normally. Roscoe uses the opportunity run back to his cell, steal the bottle of MPH pills from Cedric, and then walk right out of the prison gates. Meanwhile, we see Mr. Springfield in his very cozy holding cell, talking to someone on the phone about how he’s ready to explain everything…

I’m not sure yet what to think of the lead character, Roscoe. He seems unbelievably cheerful, no matter what state he’s in. While meeting with Hal we see Roscoe talking about his big plans for going legit and becoming a multimillionaire. He a re-reads Law of Attraction regularly and creates a vision board to help him achieve his goals. Even when he’s first put in jail, he’s convinced that everything will still work out and that he can get out within 5 years and fulfill his plans to become a successful businessman and move to California. He seems almost cartoonish in his positivity.

Also the way he took MPH didn’t make much sense. Even if we accept that he’s now angry and depressed enough that he’s tempted by drugs after resisted them before, why would he pop a pill that even the dealer admits he doesn’t know what it is or what it will do to him? Wouldn’t he be like, nah I don’t want that new stuff, just gimme some cocaine or marijuana or whatever?

But I did enjoy the scenes where Roscoe first explores his newfound superspeed. It’s an interesting take on the concept of superspeed (although not completely original, as Alan Moore used similar techniques while writing a superspeedster, Doc Rocket, in a Youngblood series for Rob Liefeld many years ago), as you assume that for a character that can run so fast everything else must seem like it’s moving in slow motion to him. It’s pretty cool. And there’s the mystery of Mr. Springfield and the origin of the MPH drug is still left to be revealed. And so far it is lacking any of the over-the-top violence and sexual innuendo that Millar is known for, which is a nice change of pace. I was unfamiliar with Fegredo’s artwork before this, he doesn’t have the high profile that Millar’s other creator-owned collaborators usually have, he does a good job here. I will be back next month for issue #2


MPH #1


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