Suicide Risk is surprisingly gritty, even for a book with that title. But Mike Carey and Elena Casagrande earn it, and make some smart choices that elevate the book.
First, Casagrande should be singled out for doing something very difficult: Communicating just how violent and dangerous the superheroes in this book are without resorting to splat. Casagrande, largely known for her work on Buffy books, isn’t shy about showing blood, mind you, but you’re not going to see slasher-movie grade gore. Here’s an example:
And the next page, a man has his arm yanked out of his socket, and Casagrande uses the geometries of an arm being just… wrong and facial expressions to communicate the pain and fear. The opening of this book is really an enormous chance for Casagrande to show off her skill with an action sequence.
Mike Carey, of course, is no slouch either, and that’s part of the reason the book works so well. After an extended bank heist gone ugly, and the necessary debriefing, Leo, our hero, goes to… his son’s birthday party. We get to meet his family, see him have a conversation with his father in law, see his loving relationship, see what this guy already has on the line, emotionally, even before his partner was maimed and a bank heist with fatalities in the double-digits.
Carey has a lot of ground to cover, and he’s careful to be coy about some things and detailed about others. For example, we meet the “power” dealers early on in the story and… they’re shmucks. But we don’t know exactly what they’re up to or why they’re doing it: Money is very clearly a secondary motive.
There are plenty of dangling questions here, with answers we really want. And that’s a great launch to a book for us.