Review: ‘One-Star Squadron’ #1 Offers Up Mark Russell Brand Satire But A Good Deal Of Pathos Too

by Olly MacNamee


Even heroes have to pay the bills. And that’s why some of them need to lower their expectations and work for Heroes4U. But below the satire in One Star Squadron #1 is a story that’s more real world than many superhero comics. One part Office Space and another part your regular DC Comics.


In One-Star Squadron #1 writer Mark Russell takes some of DC Comics less visible heroes – and some who have downright been all but forgotten – and cast them in his latest satirical series. Which takes aim at the gig economy many find themselves slaves too. An economy that relies on star-ratings and good reviews, and gruelling hours for little reward and resulting in low self-worth. Like a lot of Russell’s output, the jokes cover up a far more serious side to modern living. A modern existence that Red Tornado has succumbed to it would seem as we learn about his entrance into superheroing and the realities we never see when your main employment is to save the world and not get paid doing it. No wonder he comes off, in one telling panel, as a Jello Biafra level cynic when he asks hokey hero Minuteman, “You ever feel like you’ve been lied to?” Furthermore, this presentation of Red Tornado is far more human than previous appearances. Are we looking at an alternative universe here, maybe? One in which Power Girl power dresses as the head honcho of Heroes4U. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Beyond the comedic set up there is also real pathos too, as we meet Jose Delgado, a lonely patient in nearby Metropolis County Hospital suffering from memory loss. Alzheimers, dementia, maybe? Whatever the underlying cause, it’s a storyline that sets Red Tornado off in one direction while the real-world tragedy of such a condition is deftly intact with more humorous scenes back at the office. A canny trick used by any number of well versed writers to prevent the whole affair being a complete downer. 

Artist Steve Lieber’s no-nonsense art style is a perfect fit for this kind of street level story too. Yes there is a more nefarious, super-villain level threat revealed later in this debut issue, but the heart of this series seems to be the human level dramas that many a reader will be able to relate to. Y’know, the kind of stories Marvel used to excel in back in the day. Dave Stewart’s sharp eye for colours also helps sell this goofy concept with the colourful collective staff of capes and cowls popping against the beige office setting of Heroes4U. This is not an office environment you’d want to work in. Although, sadly, many do.

One Star Squadron #1 delivers a promising start and a very different comic to the one you may be expecting, but with the tantalising promise of supervillains and superheroing too. A great mix of melodrama and real-world drama too. And out now from DC Comics.

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