Collected Comic Review - My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies

My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies - Collecting the My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies (2018) Original Graphic Novel.

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have long been one of the preeminent comic book creative teams.  They have been collaborators for nearly twenty years now, and even then My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies signifies a first for the duo: it is their first foray into the use of the original graphic novel (OGN) format. 

The OGN format may be something new from the creative team's bag of tricks, but it will feel quite familiar to long time fans as it is set within their popular Criminal universe (which they will be returning to after a number of years with a new monthly series in 2019).

Artwork by Sean Phillips/Jacob Phillips

The central character for My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies is Ellie.  She reluctantly goes through the day to day motions while attending a rehab facility she doesn't feel she belongs in.  Ellie has a glorified outlook on drugs and alcohol, sighting the fact that many artists have produced their best works while under the influence.  She even poses the question "what if drugs help you find the thing that makes you special?" in one of her support groups.  The one person who seems to be ok engaging in Ellie's contentious conversation topics is Skip, a fellow resident who is on the straight and narrow and turning his life around.  The two begin to develop a relationship, which mostly consists of Ellie's being a bad influence (whether Skip realizes it or not).  First sneaking out after curfew for a cigarette.  Then later for some weed.  Then even running away from the rehab facility entirely together on what turns into a drug and alcohol addled spree that, in its own twisted way, almost seems romantic.  That is until you remember that you are reading a Brubaker/Phillips tale, which reminds you that an emotional punch in the gut is imminent and there will be no truly happy ending.  As one may guess from this quick description, the content is mature, which really shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who has read previous Brubaker/Phillips creator owned projects.

Artwork by Sean Phillips/Jacob Phillips

My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies is yet another excellently written and illustrated noir-ish tale from this creative team and not only introduces new characters to the Criminal universe, but also a new collaborator on colors.  Sean's son Jacob provides the colors for this story, using muted pastels in a deliberately sloppy manner (color oftentimes spilling over the boundaries of the line work) that accentuates the tone and feel of the book.  I'm not sure if he will be coloring the upcoming Criminal series, but I look forward to seeing more of his work.

Artwork by Sean Phillips/Jacob Phillips

Unlike its hardcover predecessors in the Brubaker/Phillips library, this OGN is standard sized and does not include any extras.  Honestly though, due to the short nature of the story (just 72 pages), it is a good fit.  It is still a very nice edition and looks great on the shelf with their other creator owned works.

Artwork by Sean Phillips/Jacob Phillips

The tie to the previously established Criminal continuity is subtle.  If you haven't read any of the previous Criminal material don't worry as this story stands alone just fine.  However, if you have, the connection will be a cool little Easter egg.  It has been a number of years since I have read my Criminal Deluxe Editions, but after getting sucked back into that world with this OGN, a re-read may be on the horizon.  I definitely can't wait for the new monthly series coming next year.

Back Cover/On the shelf with other Brubaker/Phillips editions


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