When last we left Marvel's new 1930s-era heroes, three of them had just met and formed an alliance to deal with the threat who framed one of them for the murder of another's sister. In Mystery Men #2, we see that team-up isn't quite as simple as all that.
It seems The Operative, aka Dennis Piper, aka the man framed for murdering his girlfriend Alice Starr, wants to work alone, once it turns out that The Revenant actually knew Alice as well. And, of course, Alice's sister Sarah is cast aside because this whole sordid affair is too dangerous for a woman. Welcome to the 30s. Once Piper learns the truth about who's behind all the skullduggery, though, he can't enlist help fast enough.
Despite the title of this series, David Liss is moving the story along swiftly, not leaving all that much actual mystery at the moment. We learn that the evil undead-looking General behind the murder is actually Piper's father, and also the head of an international group of money-grubbing bastards of "enlightened self-interest" calling themselves The Board, who seem to be helping to orchestrate the Great Depression for their own financial gain, and even planning several years down the road to join forces with the Axis for what they see as an inevitable World War. Natch. Not only that, but his deal with some kind of demon has him trying to track down some kind of power amulet – the search for which has just ruined the life of archaeologist Lewis Green, who may just become our fourth Mystery Man in the upcoming chapters.
The brisk pace works for this story, as we've got five issues in which to get to know five people. This second installment is narrated from Sarah's point of view, as she makes her value to this team known on a snazzy and dynamic final splash page, but there's also Piper's backstory, the showdown with his father and the true identity of the Revenant, aka Ezekiel Wright, revealed as well – somehow, catching a bullet in one's teeth is a magic-show trick that somehow works in reality.
Patrick Zircher is still pretty smooth on the art front – nothing quite amazing, but pretty good – as is colorist Andy Troy with setting the mood, as must be done with noir-era action. Haven't come across a main character I haven't liked yet – although the woman that broke poor Lewis Green's heart is quietly jerky about it – as is her goon of a man. Piper himself is a slick operator, with leading man charm and keen detective skills, while the Revenant complements his spooky persona with an earnest personality – and Sarah Starr, codename to be determined, is looking to be a firebrand with a daredevil streak.
This is just a good, fun adventure in classically-styled crimefighting. Bring on the mystery.
CRAVE RATING: 8.3/10