Advance Review: Fleshing Out the Villains In `Minor Threats’ #2

by Tom Smithyman


Focusing on low-threat villains in trouble may not sound like a great story. But when they are handled with as much respect and TLC that this creative team shows its subjects, the tale becomes something bigger more compelling.


Minor villains have been the staple of comic books for decades. They serve often as comic relief or as a much-needed layup for a hero in a filler issue between comic crises.

But as seen in Minor Threats, when these D-list villains – anti-heroes really – are given strong backstories and real human emotions, they can be every bit as compelling as Superman’s Lex Luthor or Spider-Man’s Green Goblin.

It’s not intuitive that writers Patton Oswalt and Jordan Blum would be able to fit much backstory in a 4-issue limited series, but in only the second installment, they have created a fascinating character in Brain Freeze. And that is what makes the story stand out from the typical rock-em sock-em series out there.

In just a few panels – thanks in no small part to artist Scott Hepburn’s artwork – the reader instantly understands Brain Freeze’s motivations. We know immediately about his abusive father, his Sherlock Holmes-like attention to detail and the disappointment he has in himself for not being a more threatening evildoer.

That extraordinary storytelling is set against a backdrop in which the sidekick of Twilight City’s premier hero Insomniac has been killed. Insomniac and the rest of the Continuum tear through the underworld looking for the Stickman, who murdered Kid Dusk. (Think the death of Robin.) Brain Freeze teams up with other minor villains to try to track down Stickman before the team of “heroes” kills every villain in town. For Stickman, though, snuffing Kid Dusk was just the appetizer to a much bigger and juicier main course.

The respect that the creative team has for this material is impressive. While they know they are dealing with insignificant characters, they are heroes of this story, and their actions carry weight. Hepburn, in particular, clearly is having fun drawing this tale, as the heroes and villains alike take off the gloves and go for the kill.

In short, Minor Threats is a major accomplishment.

Minor Threats #2 will be available for purchase on October 5, 2022.

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