Slightly less than a year after the Marvel MAX imprint took off in 2001, budding writer Brian K. Vaughan and horror comics artist Kyle Hotz concoct a six-part limited series premiering a rookie super-villian who realises that with great power comes great responsibility.
"What makes wearing a stupid costume worth all that hassle?"
"One word... Pussy."
Parker Robbins is a young small-time crook just trying to make ends meet and support his pregnant girlfriend and institutionalized mother. Oh, that and he's got a Eastern European mistress. But the daily grind of petty crimes just don't cut it for Parker. He's been idolizing supervillians ever since he witnessed Electro's battle with Daredevil as a child.
"But... but he's wearing some sort of cape. You sure he's not a, you know, and Avenger or something?"
"Pretty sure. Avengers ain't that ugly."
When his cousin and partner in crime gets wind of another possible heist, Parker reluctantly goes along for the ride. However, the tip-off was inaccurate and the hopeful criminals find themselves in an abandoned warehouse, with nothing but occult markings on the ground. To make matters worse, the two men are attacked by a strange demon and in the melee, the younger thief shoots their otherworldly assailant. Ever the opportunist, Parker picks up the demon's boots and hooded cloak.
"I've got powers now."
"Powers? How? You get doused with chemicals or... hit by an asteroid?"
Thus begins the ride of his life as Parker Robbins discovers he now can levitate as well as turn invisible, thanks to his new choice of clothing. However, the juvenile offender lets his newfound powers go to his head and despite stealing a bag of diamonds, shoots a police officer in the process.
"Do you have any idea what the life expectancy of a fugitive cop-killer is?"
Parker is now a man on the run, his every action tailed closely by two rookie agents from the FBI. Dubbed "The Hood", Parker Robbins needs all his wits about him if he is to escape his pursuers.
Co-creator Brian Vaughan (who went on to write the best-selling Y: The Last Man) does well in making a protaganist out of a supervillian. Despite his less than legal activities, Parker Robbins is depicted as being both a filial son and loving boyfriend. The reader ends up relating to The Hood's humanity, for this is very much another "coming of age" story about growing up with newfound power.
The strength of the story also lies in the richness of its supporting cast. Vaughan throws in well-known but second-rate supervillians such as the Constrictor, the Shocker and Jack O'Lantern, along with various references to the Fantastic Four and the Kingpin. The frequency of these "honorable" mentions reminds the reader that this is very much a Marvel Comic, despite its rather unique anti-hero.
Dubbed the "Master of the Macabre", artist Kyle Hotz lends his edgy, darker style to the comic, giving it the perfect blend of horror and film noir. Even the Shocker, a supervillian who gets defeated by Spider-Man on a regular basis, appears a hostile and lethal threat when drawn by Hotz.