This mini has a very intriguing premise. In our world we don't have superheroes, people still however idolise them, want to look like them and dress like them, with people pretending to be superheroes at geek conventions and dressing like them in porn films. They are fetishised even though they aren't real, and Grant Morrison has decided to look at how this culture would translate in a universe that did have real superpowered individuals on it, with his own experiences of various comic comventions informing just how little would actually change if the superheroes were real. Because he decides to look at some of the less savoury aspects of this fetishisation and fascination by men, he asked the artist's Yanick Paquette and Michael Bair to draw all the female heroes in fashion model poses. There are no contortions of the human body though, the artwork is shows them as beautiful women in revealing costumes but without reducing them to mere sex objects thanks to Morrison's humane script. The only issue I have with this sexualisation is that Morrison does such a good job making the heroine a good-hearted, somewhat meek and gentle human being that objectifying this way for purely meta reasons feel a little off somehow. With that caveat out of the way, lets move on.
The story begins with the person who will become The Bulleteer - Alix Harrower - standing in front of a mirror in just her bra and knickers so we can see she's metallic all over apart from her striking red hair (the hair colour is actually something that will come back into play in the series finale). She says to her self "Now what?". There is a flashback to her and her husband Lance, both metallic being seen in an emergency ward. She is OK but her husband can't breathe and he dies.
|Alix's scumbag husband.|
Next day he says has she ever thought about being a superhero. He wants them to be like the 1940's husband and wife team "The Human Bullet" which he's updated to "The Bulleteer". She says she "can't imagine anything more horrible". He also wants to preserve their bodies so they will stay young:
Lance: "All I'm saying is youth doesn't last forever. Unless you're a superhero."
We briefly return to Alix in the present remembering a conversation she had at the hospital about the crazy lengths people will go to try and give themselves superpowers. Then we are back to when she looked normal. She arrives home from work and hears a pained yell from the basement. She runs down and finds Lance covered in metal. He starts gasping for air and touches her, the metallic substance flowing onto her and covering her.
|Alix get metalised.|
Alix: "I work with autistic children and they... they thought I'd been replaced by a robot."
She then admits that she did some checking of Lance's PC and found he was having a sexually charged online relationship with a superheroine pornstar. In distress at this revelation she just blindly ran, hoping to hit something that might kill her. Instead she happens upon a crashed train and helps out, rescuing several people. This makes her think there might be something in this superhero lark, and the issue ends with Alix in the full Bulleteer costume.
|The Bulleteer revealed.|
Alix: "Oh my God. I was all set to go to Arizona that day. I even bought a ticket, then I lost my nerve."
Sarah comments that "someone up there loves you" then shows the footage taken from the hoverbike camera's of the six being horribly torn apart by Neh-Buh-Loh and the Sheeda. Then Sarah asks if Alix has a costume as she needs her to pull something off. In the car, Sarah tells Alix about being bitten the previous night. Then they arrive at a prison to see an inmate called Ramon Solomano aka Iron Fist aka The Napoleon of Crime. Sarah fills in some background on him:
Sarah: "Forty years ago, Greg Saunders and the original Seven Soldiers of Victory fought your Nebula Man in the Himalayas. One of them died, the others were lost in time for thirty years. But that wasn't enough for you was it? The Nebula Man has returned last week and killed a new team of Soldiers on camera."
|Sarah and Alix interrogate Ramon.|
To force Ramon to talk she has Alix break a couple of digits off it and a distressed Ramon finally admits he called Nebula Man up in the past, when Neh-Buh-Loh was searching the Himalaya's for a lost tribe of winged horses and Seven Soldiers to kill. When his nephew showed him Greg's advert, he got him to summon Neh-buh-Loh/Nebula Man again to kill them. He says Greg deserved to die and that he was a racist. He tells them that when Greg arrested him and his gang for the first time, Greg told his man "Lupelino" that if he found anymore of his filthy kin around he'd "flay your hide and hang it out to dry."
Sarah, with some amusement shows Ramon evidence that Greg was actually a werewolf and recognised his own kind when he found them. Then she demands to know more about what bit her.
Ramon: "She is it's mistress, and they come from the place that is the end of all hope. Thank God I'll be gone before they show their faces to the world."
He then says Greg came to him the previous night and shot him in the heart. He starts bleeding from his chest and collapses. Outside the prison a now very debilitated Sarah asks Alix to drive her to the registrar on Express Street. As they sit in traffic, she calls up her brother and says "I'm sorry about the milkshake." The traffic is not moving so she asks Alix to get her there somehow. Alix carries her there, and inside, Sarah's sister is getting married to a man called... Lupelino. When the registrar asks if there is any just cause or impediment, Sarah yells:
Sarah: "Don't do it sis! The guy's a werewolf!"
Sarah then finally dies in Alix's arms. Later Alix thinks to herself:
Alix: "It was just so sad and awkward until the police and the monster hunters turned up."
|Fare thee well Sarah Helligan.|
We next see Alix at a superhero convention bodyguarding a mermaid - oops, sorry, person of marine origin - called Stellamaris. After telling assembled reporters about prejudice in Hollywood against her kind, she starts choking and gasping that the water is poisoned so Alix breaks the tank and rescues her. As we see images of Alix at home and at the convention, a narration identifies her as a "target" and wonders "where's the door in her, that death can use." The mystery voice is I Spyder, now an agent of the Sheeda, who starts fashioning a new arrow.
|The resurrected I Spyder|
Susan: "So tell me, who is responsible for your outfit, honey?"
Alix: "My husband had it specially made, before he passed away."
Susan: "Hff. He turned you out like a hooker, then died? Was it shame?"
Ouch! Lucien then leads Alix through the convention. His own panel is "In the pink corner - superqueer bashing, kid sidekicks and life on the fringes of the law."
They pass a female panel called "Sweethearts and Supervixens" and one panellist is complaining that the very name of the panel shows the restrictive nature of female superhero roles. Later Lucien has left Alix and is drinking with some other heroes. Lucien is pissed Aquaman won Best Comeback - "All he did was shave!". One of the others says he'll win "gayest newcomer" for sure.
|Wouldn't be a panel without some random off-topic question.|
Thumbelina: "Sally likes turning guys against their human wives and girlfriends, that was her thing."
She then flies off and Lucien appears, somewhat the worse for drink. He asks Alix if she wants to team-up with him. Then lets slip that he isn't even gay. he just pretends "it helps me stand out in a crowd."
Alix: "What is it with everyone here. Why are you all so obssessed with being special?"
|Wouldn't be a convention without some drunken self-pity.|
I Spyder: "I Can't miss. I never miss. Unless I mean to".
Greg Sanders: "I know they got you working for the other side. But I seem to recall recruiting you to my team boy... and we ain't through."
Once Alix is back home, she recounts her experiences to her lodger. Saying she feels she has lead a very sheltered life. Her lodger, who is called Sara Smart reaches into her shirt and produces a whistle.
Sara Smart: "Sounds like bad things happen to people when they put costumes on. It must be horrible to be like that girl Thumbelina. It could make you mad".
Alix: "I didn't mention her name did I? Sara Smart? It's you, isn't it? Sally Sonic.
And Sara/Sally transforms and attacks Alix fiercely. The final issue alternates between flashbacks to sally's past and the battle in the present.
|Sally Sonic, what a bitch.|
The Present: Alix lies crushed under a refridgerator (a playful nod to the Women In Refridgerators trope maybe?), while Sally mocks her for allowing her into her house.
Sally: "They love it when you do the change. Men... when you change from a plain ordinary girl into a superheroine. Lance loved it. He told me so in a hundred emails. Your beloved husband told me everything about your bland, boring life together."
|Alix fights back.|
Sally's Past: After being locked in the headmistresses punishment wardrobe for days, she breaks out and goes to London. she immediately bumps into a friend soldier called Dennis. He has "X Powers" and says he was inspired to become a superhero after meeting American ones during the war. He seduces her and they end up making love.
|Don't worry she only looks like jailbait!|
Sally: "I wanted what you had. The handsome scientist, the lab, the lovely home. Except I'd have dressed for him every night 'The Bulleteer and Sally'. We were made for each other. Buut now he's dead."
And she throws Alix through the wall and down onto a car below.
Sally's Past: Dennis is showing saucy photos of Sally to an assembled group of seedy individuals, selling her as the ultimate, never aging, jail-baity porn star. Back home he guilt trips her into agreeing to do more photo's by saying it would solve their financial problems. Finally he persuades her to drink "Doctor Hyde's Evil Serum" by telling her it's a power potion. Later he tells her that her father, who was a judge, sentenced him and his brother to five years in jail for burglary and assault which he thought was very unfair. His brother caught pnuemonia in prison and died, and Dennis has waited all this time to get revenge by corrupting the Judges daughter, even though the Judge himself is dead. All Sally says to this is "time to go on... patrol again Dennis?"
|Those are bullets hitting her....|
Alix: "I don't care who you are! I don't care what your ****'n sob story is! Don't take it out on me!!"
|Beware the nice ones.|
Greg: "You're the Seventh Soldier. You're the key to victory over the other side."
He says the future of every living thing depends on her coming with him. Alix says she has heard mentally ill people talk like the way he and Sally are.
Alix: The fact I can no longer tell the difference between paranoid schizophrenia and the day-to-day realities of life as a costumed crime fighter counts me out of any special destiny you care to come up with. I quit."
Greg tries to tell her she can't. But she won't listen. She picks up Metal Mickey and says she has to get Sally to a hospital.
Alix: "You and destiny are on your own. It's over. World, save yourself".
|Alix and Metal Mickey, saying NO to Destiny.|