My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies HC
I’ve been looking forward to this book for months and it didn’t disappoint.
Most of all, I was happy that the experimentation with the format of this latest Brubaker/Phillips collaboration - this is their first book to be released straight away as a single hardcover comics ‘novella’ - allowed them to provide a different reading experience to their monthlies.
Without the concerns of the single-issue format, the book is free to adopt a longer-form structure that allows a gentler pace during the earlier sections, fully setting the scene and building things up gradually, rather than having an episodic story in which every 20 pages must be filled with incident.
The art style reflects that sense of openness and calmness in the opening pages too, with some lovely sections early on that feel brighter and more airy than most Brubaker/Phillips books tend to get. Jacob Phillips’ vibrant colours certainly play a big part in that too - they add a real freshness to the look of the book that help it stand out from previous works.
Of course, as we learn more about the book’s key players we see the darkness gradually start to creep in, with some effective twists and gradually-revealed details that eventually help to move the tone of the book closer to what we might expect from a Criminal story.
There are also some great flashback sequences throughout the book, which not only illustrate character and flesh out plot, but also allow Brubaker some nostalgic musings on music history, which make for enjoyable and atmospheric interludes.
It helps that they’re accompanied by some of the best art in the book - I loved the full-page illustrations from Phillips that we saw in the slower and more thoughtful sections of Kill Or Be Killed, and we get a return to that here.
You’ll notice that in talking about the story I haven’t touched on specific plot details or even character elements in any great detail, and that’s intentional, as the book works best knowing very little about it going in.
But what I will say is that it’s another great Brubaker/Phillips collaboration, and one that immediately earns its place alongside their other excellent Criminal books while also providing a distinctive flavour of its own, and offering a noticeably different reading experience by taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the OGN format.