Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Duncan Fegredo
Publisher: Image Comics
Previously: MPH #4
After reviewing HUCK #2, which made reference to a character alluded to in this series, I realize that even though I’d published reviews of the first 4 issue of MPH, I never did get around to reviewing this final 5th issues. Truthfully, it’s because of how disappointed I was in the way this series ended, so I just never got around to it. Well, just to be complete, I’ll finish it now. And since it’s been so long, I don’t need to hold back. Still, for anyone reading this who is interested but still hasn’t had a chance to read the series, stop reading NOW.
So the highlight of the issue was the multi-page super-speed fight between Roscoe, Rosa, and Chevy, that crossed the globe in a matter of seconds, as I said from the beginning of this series I was always most impressed with the way super-speed has been portrayed in this book, and credit once again goes to Duncan Fegredo for the way he draws these scenes. This all leads to the big shocking twist where Chevy is killed and Roscoe runs so fast that he travels back in time to 1985, only identifying himself as Mr. Springfield.
I have to admit, as far as Mark Millar plot-twists go, this is one of his most clever ones. I was surprised when the time travel element was first introduced in MPH #3, as it seemed out of left field, and in the last issue I speculated that this would leave to Roscoe inadvertently creating MPH in the first place. Well, that wasn’t the case, but Roscoe’s time travel to the past does influence the events of the series. One minor nitpick though is that when Roscoe, as the adult Mr. Springfield, first confronts Chevy, Chevy is still given time to brutally murder what appears to be at least 4 Federal agents before he’s stopped. You’d think Roscoe would have remembered that and tried to prevent that from happening. Nevertheless, I was impressed with the concept.
A few other nitpicks are regards to the fate of Baseball. He was shown throughout this series to be a brash punk who doesn’t think before he acts. That’s how he ended up in the past in the first place, thanks to his reckless overdosing on drugs. It’s hard to believe that he would have had the wherewithal to not only survive back in the 1930’s but figure out a way to thrive and become a millionaire. But even if I’m willing to let that slide, there’s the manner in which he ends up leaving $10 million to Rosco and Rosa. Why would he just give them a suitcase full of cash? Surely it would have been more practical to set up bank accounts for them? And then as Roscoe and Rosa ride off into the sunset, I get that this is supposed to be a romantic ending, but I can’t help but focus on the fact that Roscoe is now physically 29 years older than Rosa. So how long is that really going to last? Sooner or later, she’s going to get tired of him.
Well, like I said, that’s probably nitpicking to some degree. I can still mostly enjoy the series for what it actually was. But one thing that turned me off when all was said and done, is what it wasn’t. Specifically, how it wasn’t what it was supposed to be.
In the months leading up to this series, Millar made repeated statements about how this series was going to explore what happens when “the powerless” gain power and strike back at a system that they feel has abandoned them. He talked about being inspired after traveling through poverty-stricken Detroit. And he was going to use this series to address all of these big socio-economic concerns, even claiming that he was going to send a copy of the first issue to the President and all members of the Senate.
But, really? What were any of them supposed to learn from this series? These kids get super speed and start stealing stuff. That’s it. There’s a lot of talk about striking back at the rich corporations, but we don’t actually see it. There’s a splash page in issue #3 of them running, where in the captions they brag about how “it felt so good to pick the pockets of all those fat cats that crippled Detroit. The banks the stopped our lines of credit. The crooked politicians that sold us down the river. The car companies that outsourced our jobs and left us with nothing but drugs and American Idol. They took us from being an industrial powerhouse to half the city upping and leaving us with over eighty thousand empty buildings.”
And then their great plan of giving pack to the regular people is to just toss tons of cash off the top of buildings for people on the street to grab? And then in issue #4 it says Roscoe and Rosa gave money to the poor in Detroit, Arkansas, and Georgia. But who? Who exactly did they give it to, and how do we know it was given to the right people? And for all this talk of striking about at the so-called fat cats, we never see how any of those people react to this. It’s not the corporate CEO’s who are trying to track down the runners, it’s the U.S. government. And so it basically is just a typical “outlaws on the run” story in many ways.
I think the problems is that this series exposes Mark Millar’s limitations as a writer. He often has these big ideas, but doesn’t know how to execute them properly, and this is one of them. Yes, this could have been a deep thought-provoking story about the flaws of the modern capitalist system, but it just feels like another action piece. I think in the hands of a better writer, like Gail Simone, who tackled many of these issues in her short-lived series THE MOVEMENT, this could have been much better.
So, in the end, I liked MPH, but still felt it had much more potential than it showed.