I know nothing about sport, but Harlem Heroes is one of those titles that keeps coming up whenever you look at lists of great British comic books, and I decided to put my natural reticence about sport comics behind and pick up the Complete Harlem Heroes, and I’m glad that I did.
What you get with Harlem Heroes, is a straight up murder mystery wrapped up in the pageantry of the World Aeroball Championships. “the game of Aeroball has swept the world! It’s Football, Boxing, Kung Fu and Basketball all rolled into one! Players roar through the air wearing jet packs (controlled by buttons on their belts) and score “air strikes” by getting the ball in the “score tank”.
In the opening act The Heroes Team Bus is sabotaged leading to the death of most of the team, and leaving one member a brain in a jar. So the surviving members of the team along with a few rookies, a few veterans and few reserves try to take down the Heroes killer all whilst trying to bring home the championship back to Harlem.
This is Pat Mills and Tom Tully at their best, you can tell that they really care about the characters they’ve created here and that love is also transcribed ably by legendary artist Dave Gibbons (Of Watchmen fame) my only negative comment that I will make about this book, is that it felt as though the ending of the Hero’s saga was somewhat rushed, another thing that I hope comes one day, is a colourised version of the strip, I would love to see the world of the 2050 Aeroball Championships brought to life in colour.