Written by Steve Niles, Darwyn Cooke, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Justin Gray
Art by Scott Morse, Darwyn Cooke, and Jerry Lando
I would have thought that perhaps the time had come for a book like Creator-Owned Heroes, but seeing as this is the series's last issue, I guess it hadn't. It's easy, and very tempting, to play armchair quarterback and talk about why this book didn't last (in fact, Jimmy Pamiotti mentions how many websites seemed to revel in doing that when the news of the cancellation was announced), so I'm going to refrain from that sort of thing.
Instead, I'd like to focus on how much this book was starting to do correctly. Each issue was anchored by two serials, one written by Steve Niles and the other by Palmiotti and Justin Gray. These varied in quality (something's never really clicked for me in Niles's writing), but they were consistently non-traditional. Recently, Darwyn Cooke was added to the mix, and given space for his own stories month after month, which really raised my interest in the book. As well, the magazine-content had become much more focused on independent and creator-owned comics, which was a much better fit for the title than say, another interview with Jimmy Palmiotti's personal trainer (which really did appear in an early issue).
As for this list issue, it closes out the series in style. Steve Niles finishes off his 'Meatbag' story in a completely unexpected way. The first chapter, drawn by the incredible Scott Morse, was a pretty standard-seeming gumshoe kind of thing, but this chapter takes the story into some otherworldly territory, and that genuinely surprised me.
Darwyn Cooke had to abandon a three-part story because of the cancellation (although I hope we get to see it as a one-shot some day soon), and so instead included a very personal little story he'd made for the woman he recently married. It's sweet.
Palmiotti and Gray closed off their 'Killswitch' story in a way I wouldn't have expected, as Brandon tracks down the person who tried to kill him, only to trick her into falling in love with him and marrying him (which I'm sure many would say is greater revenge than murder). There's a lot of nudity in this chapter, as if the writers were enjoying the freedom cancellation brings.
In closing, I think I'm going to miss this book more for the potential that it had than what it ever actually was. I was really looking forward to new monthly work by Cooke that didn't feel amoral (like his Before Watchmen work that I've avoided), and with artists like Morse joining the stable, to see who else may have been published here. Palmiotti and Gray are always entertaining writers, and I wanted to see where they would have journeyed on a book that allowed this much freedom. I do want to say that I admire all of these creators for trying something new.