Speed Thrills and Powers Kill in Accell 1

by Ryan Desaulniers

Accell 1

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

If you’ve read a superhero title, than you have almost certainly encountered a speedster on the pages. While their basic premise may be simple (they’re really, really fast), creators have played with the scope and scale of this speed to the point that characters have broken the time barrier and even out-run death itself. With this huge lore of speedsters existing, it must be a daunting task to write a new superpowered character with this skill set. The creative team — almost entirely composed of veterans in the industry such as Joe Casey — tackle this challenge in  Accell 1, delivering a fun romp if one can suspend their sense of disbelief, notable mostly for their choice in lead character.

The curtains rise on Daniel DosSantos, a 20 year old kid in LA doing what a kid his age might be doing: playing video games — in this case, a not-so-subtle analog of Grand Theft Auto. This lasts for a page before he’s off to deal with an impending disaster, as superheroes do. Daniel’s direct address to the audience throughout the issue carries some relaxed, colloquial charm, and since he’s talking right to us as if we just met him, the exposition never feels heavy-handed. I think this works especially well because Daniel is still pretty new to the hero/powers game, so it’s more that he shares what he has discovered instead of telling us how it is. I also found it refreshing for a number one of a new character that the audience did not need to sit through the same copy + paste formula which many origin stories fall into. I also appreciate that the leading man is Latinon — a rarity even in this post-Miles Morales world — and Casey didn’t need to pepper his speech or thoughts with any stereotypical phrases en Español to sell this to the audience.

The part I’m still making up my mind about is Daniel’s powers. His speed powers being so new, Daniel knows not the full extent of his abilities. One nice way they put a bit of spice on the speedster gimmick is by making him impervious to pain while he runs, but the forces take a toll on his body, leaving him in the emergency room both times we see him use his powers. Though he can also heal at an accelerated rate, the cost of his powers will surely set up some high-stakes situations when he inevitably taxes his body to the point of potential long-term damage; however, the skeptic in me has a hard time believing that this character can do some things nearly instantaneously and with seeming ease, but ends his first fight with the walking arsenal baddie known as Barrage in a draw. Maybe I’m a stickler for the continuity of rules of power sets, but they help me understand and enjoy the comic more, so I’d love to see them more clearly defined. At least artist Damion Scott’s pencils, with their street art/graffiti-esque lineation, make the effects look cool enough, and match well with the tone of the text.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

3 comments on “Speed Thrills and Powers Kill in Accell 1

  1. I…kinda hated this book? That bums me out, as speedsters are generally my favorite superheroes, and I actually really liked the way Casey had Accel use his abilities, but nothing else about the issue really worked for me. Daniel’s voice grinded my gears to no end, and doesn’t sound like how any teenager/twentysomething talks to me at all (I know I’m getting older, but I’m not THAT old yet) — it felt like Casey trying and failing to be hip. And the central conflict is stale as can be — I’ve seen the “father hates his daughter’s boyfriend” dozens of time, with a surprising amount of them tacking on the “so he tries to kill” them modifier. I kinda had to roll my eyes at the cliche of it all, especially with nothing else added to make it feel fresh. And the girlfriend, of course, is a complete nonentity. It’s nice seeing Damion Scott again though — his time on “Batgirl” is a seminal comics run for me.

    • It ever happen to you that you’re reading a comic, preparing to write a piece on it and already have a gut feeling, then you look up how accomplished the creative team is and decide to give it the benefit of the doubt? Because I do agree with most things you just said.

      • I know exactly the problem. You would not believe long it it took me to admit that I don’t like Mark Waid’s work, because there was a part of me that just wanted to accept that Mark Waid was the legend everyone said. It is so easy to be caught up in the pedigree of a creative team and expect that it is going to be good.

        While having knowledge of a creative team can be very valuable in enriching a work (I’m very proud of my comments on the Vision, and I couldn’t do that without the knowledge I acquired reading Omega Men and Sheriff of Babylon), it takes effort not to let other factors warp your opinion. Hell, that’s part of the reason one of my proudest comments was writing a negative review of King’s the Vision 9. Totally inconsistent with my previous comments, and I was very glad that I didn’t let my obsessive love with every other issue of the Trilogy of Good Intentions get in the way of criticising an issue of the Vision.

        Because if you can’t do that, you end up reading 20 issues of Waid’s Daredevil before realising ‘hey, I don’t think I’ve ever liked a Mark Waid book’.

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