Writer: Tim Seeley (with Steve Seeley for story writing)
Artist: Priscilla Petraites
Colourist: Marco Lesko
Letterer: Marshall Dillon
Cover: Addison Duke & Mike Norton
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Brilliant Trash #4 escalates the tensions from the previous issue, opening with more of Zhen’s troubling memories flooding into Kennedy’s head. Heller and Kennedy make it to Lifespan Inc., and it does not take long before Kennedy (with Zhen’s knowledge) comes into conflict with Lifespan’s CEO, Jay Cromwell. Exposed to the cruel truths behind Lifespan’s goals, Kennedy and Heller suddenly find themselves the target of super-powered infiltrators, hell-bent on capturing Kennedy for themselves. Can Heller be a true superhero and save the day, or is he too loyal to Cromwell?
Minor Spoilers Follow!
This is an action-packed issue, and does an admirable job of ratcheting up the tension. Opening with more of Zhen’s memories, now slowly spilling into Kennedy’s conscious mind, we learn about Zhen’s altruistic motivations, and the money-centric plans of Cromwell. Back in the present, Kennedy and Heller reach the ostentatious Lifespan headquarters, and things quickly descend into chaos. Kennedy is back on top sarcastic form, and wisely tells Cromwell where to stick his offer of employment. The moment is interrupted by an attack from within; more ‘god hackers’ with an impressive array of powers, hiding amongst Cromwell’s own staff. Kennedy is their target, and that leaves Heller with a choice. Defend Kennedy, and the children that Lifespan have locked up, or listen to Cromwell, who he has been passively obeying since this story started. Heller makes his choice, which intriguingly may have been assisted by one of the children, and a super-powered royal rumble takes place. The issue ends on this cliff-hanger high note, and it is an excellent lead up to Brilliant Trash #5.
Brilliant Trash #4 is a definite increase in both pace and dynamic action from the previous issue, and continues the building of Heller as character. It seems he is, after all, a good man, and whether he was prompted into action by an outside force or not, he does recognise the wrong course of action. The writing from Tim (and Steve) Seeley is on point in this issue; Kennedy is her biting, sarcastic self, and is aware enough to not fall for Cromwell’s PR-laden silver tongue. Even the hackers get some gloriously unhinged dialogue, not to mention an interesting array of abilities. There are even a few sly digs at 21st century America, and although not quite as prevalent as it was in the first issue, the return to form is welcome. This issue also wins points for highlighting how super strength alone won’t stop a bullet to the head. The fight scene itself stands apart by having the additional filter of Heller’s idealised view of himself as a hero from the 1940s/50s, but with all the violence and bad language from ‘real life’ 2018. Just in case you were wondering, it’s great. The children locked away in Lifespan also get a chance for revenge, and although extremely disturbing, it feels like something they have earnt after their earlier treatment.
This brings us to the art, again provided by Priscilla Petraites. Apart from the clear, bright and well-assembled panels that have become part of this series, this issue incorporates Heller’s idealised view of an old-school superhero; Petraites implements this with aplomb, adjusting the style perfectly, and redrawing the characters to match the aesthetic. The action flows well, and the brutal consequences of superpowers is rendered in gory detail. Marco Lesko compliments and contributes to this with the colour palette, using simpler, muted colours for Heller’s vision, whilst using various filters for other important effects, like the sepia for flashbacks. This also includes bursts of bright colour to highlight important or action-packed panels, making them stand out from the page. Marshall Dillon provides the lettering, making sure dialogue is clear and easily read, whilst also making sure that the entertaining 1950’s style superhero noises (including a good use of POW!) are used liberally. Overall, this is a nice change from traditional formatting, giving the issue some nice touches. Addison Duke and Mike Norton provide the cover for this issue, giving us a hint of Heller’s heroic moment (including the old-school artwork). It’s also a nice reminder of the contrast between what would be the bloody reality of using superpowered abilities and the more sanitised version of stories past. Overall, the art team have done an excellent job with this issue, and it is nice to see inventive features that make Brilliant Trash #4 stand out. This issue also features a preview of the compilation Shock, coming soon from AfterShock Comics.
Brilliant Trash #4 is an exciting continuation of the story, with dynamic action, good pacing, and entertaining writing. It will be interesting to see where events lead after the ending, and what is in store for the characters in the future.
Brilliant Trash #4 is available now from AfterShock Comics, at any good retailer.