Writers: Patton Oswalt & Jordan Blum
Art: Scott Hepburn
Colors: Ian Herring
Letters: Nate Piekos & Blambot
Cover A and C: Scott Herring with Ian Herring
Cover B: Mike Mignola with Dave Stewart
FOC Cover: Christian Ward
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: August 24th, 2022
Frankie used to be a supervillain. Now out of jail she’s looking for a fresh start. But when her job is bartending at a local dive bar for minor villains, can she stay out of trouble?
Supervillains interacting socially at bars or other venues isn’t a new concept. Often writers base this notion on underlying bond or code that unites villains despite their disparate motives and activities. But this is not the case in MINOR THREATS #1’s opening pages, and that difference makes it a smarter, more compelling story.
MINOR THREATS #1 features Frankie, an ex-supervillain whose power is the ability for her subconscious to assemble complex machines out of almost any raw materials. Frankie’s mother recruited her into the life of a thief. Unfortunately Frankie had the misfortune to be captured by the police. Finally released, Frankie tries to put her life back together. To that end she gives up her villainous ways and takes a job bartending at the local C-list villain hangout, Lower Lair.
Frankie thinks very little of the bar’s clientele, and they aren’t particularly impressed by her. In the world established by MINOR THREATS #1, capture at the hands of the police rather than a superhero is embarrassing. In fact, beyond drinking at the same establishment, there is little camaraderie between the villains. This story choice is a good one, and it helps MINOR THREATS #1 isolate Frankie from the very beginning. Unfortunately she’s have no friends to help her put her life together, especially since she’s trying to go straight.
MINOR THREATS #1’s plot revolves around the consequences of a villain named The Stickman doing something shocking which draws the collective ire of Twilight City’s superheroes. Suddenly they’re interrogating random villains, threatening them, and beating them within an inch of their lives. At this point the comic expands from a small story about one woman rebuilding her life into a larger examination of law enforcement in the real world.
Twilight City has a neighborhood called Redport which Frankie describes as a “malignant tumor growing out of [Twilight City’s] asshole”. Heroes usually avoid Redport, not bothering with problems that they can’t punch. And if the heroes are forced to fight major threats in the neighborhood they don’t bother cleaning up the mess. All of this implies that the heroes have little interest in taking care of the impoverished areas and residents.
Given this attitude the heroes’ response to The Stickman’s actions isn’t surprising, and it resembles the worst possible excesses of police behavior. Frankie is drawn into this directly when, in an effort to find the villain, a hero hauls her away right in front of her family, questioning her in midair. In fact they’re shaking down people throughout Redport.
The final pages bring a bit of a twist, and Oswalt and Blum link the social commentary and Frankie’s personal story in a satisfying way.
MINOR THREATS #1 introduces a plethora of heroes and villains, all of them distinct. Many of these are mere cameos that don’t show up again. But for those that recur their appearance helps communicate their personality. They’re also easily recognizable in the final pages.
Hepburn makes an interesting choice with layouts. There are significant amounts of white space and borders (or light yellow in flashback sequences on most pages). A few moments even take place against that white or yellow backdrop, absent a panel and background. Hepburn’s use of conservative layouts results in the issue’s first splash page really jumping off the page. The additional splash pages are likewise separated by conservatively laid out pages, leading each one to stand out.
MINOR THREATS #1 begins simply. When Oswalt and Blum introduce the social commentary we’ve had plenty of time to get to know Frankie which makes the commentary all the more effective. The point of the story is not the heroes’ behavior and their excesses in the wake of The Stickman’s actions. Instead, this is Frankie’s story, and we see the commentary through her experiences. The comic never sacrifices story for message, and as a result it makes for a compelling and fun narrative.