Agent Death and the Martian Manhunter

Forget the concept of anti-hero. One of the characters in this book of short stories is pieced together from fish parts (with a dash of DNA from a sleeping Martian god). And another character controls the power of Heaven and Hell. These guys aren’t anti-heroes…they’re freakin’ anti-human.

Of the two, the Extraterrestrial Neo-Organism (dubbed ENO by acronym-lovin’ humans who listen to ambient music) is the most interesting and compelling character. A super soldier created by Martians, he comes to Earth (in a story titled “Enslaver of Worlds”) and rejects his prime directive. ENO may be synthesized from genetic material found in thirteen kinds of fish, but he’s a sensitive and self-reflective aqua-man who doesn’t want to be a tool for Mars’ manifest destiny. In other words, he doesn’t want to enslave anything. “I’ll make my own purpose,” he tells his creator just moments before killing him.

Agent Robert Death doesn’t have time for any navel-gazing nonsense. He’s a former CIA agent who spends his time racing against the clock defending the planet from “threats beyond reason.” In this case, he’s on a mission to contain a zombie-like outbreak in North Carolina. He has powers of Biblical proportions, but (for some reason) he still needs help on the battlefield. At his side is a technopath, a shifter, a woman who can make a man ejaculate just by touching him (all women have that power, don’t they?), and a guy with Metamorpho-like abilities. “The Zombie Farm” captures a tiny bit of hellfire in a bottle, but Agent Death is nothing but a Vertigo comics wannabe with an artless surname.

[Anti-Heroes / By David Dunwoody and Eric S. Brown / First Printing: November 2010 / ISBN 9781453773741]

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