Warren Ellis teams up with partner in crime Juan José Ryp for more superheroes behaving badly. The combo's previous Black Summer impressed me a great deal. This is also a superhero deconstruction à la Watchmen, focused (as all of them must) on the hero/villain repugnant-yet-necessary Ozymandias character. Ellis doesn't add much else. His portrayal of Ozymandias is nastier, a cold-blooded businessman ruling the world for money, sex, power and kicks. But his superhero squad nevertheless serves as a Leviathan force keeping the balance of power and avoiding a far more miserable alternative. The con is necessary, people need to be cowed into submission. Freedom is chaos.
Ellis may be working a betrayal of the 60s theme with Carrick's origins as an LSD merchant to the US army. More interesting for me is the Allfather figure (as callous as the God of the Old Testament) being challenged and overthrown (literally expelled out of the earth) by a sacrificed son figure, although Ellis being an irreligious sort, he plays some pretty sick jokes with these archetypes.
Multiple ironies are stacked over the "no hero" line. Josh wants to be a superhuman in order to end superhumanity, he's no hero but this is exactly what makes him heroic. And yet who is really the "insane villain of the piece"? Carrick throws the phrase at Carver, but it bounces back onto him. And yet... his new superpowered world order is what keeps the peace on earth. Perhaps unleashing freedom really is the least heroic thing to do.
But were back to the ironies in Watchmen again, Ellis only adding his own gross embellishments to Moore's foundational text.