Back in the 1980s, a friend turned me onto one of the best comics I ever read, MARSHAL LAW. I was happy to recently find the six-issue first series and reread it.
MARSHAL LAW portrays a future in which superheroes are created using controversial techniques. The result is Public Spirit, an all-American superman type who is promoted as a man of the future. Inspired by his example, thousands of men sign up for the treatment and become super-soldiers fighting an endless war in South America while Public Spirit travels to a distant star and returns to great fanfare.
The America he left behind has turned dangerous as superheroes haunt the ruins of California cities struck by a massive earthquake. The superheroes have enhanced bodies, but their minds are the same, some unhinged by war or as a side effect of their treatment, and most don’t feel pain, prompting them to inflict it on others. The outgunned police steer clear of these zones except for one man, MARSHAL LAW.
Clad in black leather, derided as a fascist cop, and brutal, MARSHAL LAW is a superhero who feels betrayed by the empty promises and repulsed by the violent lives led by his rogue brothers and sisters. A superhero who hunts superheroes, he tracks a monstrous hero who has committed a series of murder-rapes, and sets his sights on Public Spirit.
Written by Pat Mills with art by Kevin O’Neill, MARSHAL LAW stands out as a bold, dark and original superhero story. After seeing LOGAN and the new interest in R-rated superhero movies, I’d love to see this character adapted for screen. If you like thoughtful and dark comics like RED SON and KINGDOM COME, be sure to check this one if you haven’t yet.