Leaving Megalopolis is an original graphic novel written by Gail Simone and illustrated by Jim Calafiore, both of whom previously worked together on Secret Six. The book was crowdfunded and distributed by Kickstarter in 2014 before being formally republished by Dark Horse Comics, which also published the sequel miniseries Surviving Megalopolis.
Megalopolis was once considered the safest city in America thanks to its abundance of superheroes. Overlord, Fleet, Southern Belle, the Mite Brigade, and many others protected the fair citizens of this gleaming city. Then one day something happened to the heroes, and they suddenly turned into Ax-Crazy maniacs. Now the city is under quarantine by the U.S. military. No one can get in, or out, and for some reason, the heroes don't want to leave. And they don't want anyone else getting out either.
Leaving Megalopolis told the story of a ragtag group of survivors trying to find a way out of Megalopolis while avoiding detection by any of the many bloodthirsty former heroes, and the citizens who'll do anything to appease said former heroes.
Surviving Megalopolis, the sequel, is about said group of survivors returning with the aid of a mercenary team to rescue the friend they had to leave behind. And at the same time, a very important question gets answered: when the heroes went crazy, what happened to Megalopolis' villains?
This series provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents:
- Mina's father regularly beat her mother, and then one day he stabbed her several times and set her on fire with lighter fluid. She was still alive.
- Meredith's mother was mentally ill, and used to warn her about "The Disobedience Wolves" if she ever misbehaved. Wolves which she claimed are the things that brutally killed Meredith's favorite cow when she was a little girl.
- All There in the Manual: The second print of the graphic novels includes an identification key to many of the heroes who went unnamed in the first story.
- Arc Welding: Word of God from Gail Simone states the series takes place in the same universe as her previous comic Welcome to Tranquility.
- Ascended Extra: Southern Belle was a minor character in the original graphic novel save for a side story included at the end. In Surviving Megalopolis she's more or less the one in charge of the heroes after Overlord betrays them.
- Ax-Crazy: Every one of the Megalopolis heroes. Except the ones with no power. And of course the villains, who were already nuts well before the heroes were. Also, Visua and Overlord mention it's no longer possible for them to be heroes, because all of them are in a constant state of pain unless they kill someone.
- Beware the Superman: Overlord.
- Break Them by Talking: Michael's able to reawakening the last threads of Overlord's humanity by quoting lines from his comic book.
- Broken Bird: Mina. Her father stabbed and burned her mother alive, and as an adult she watched her boyfriend be burned to death by the Red Flame. Needless to say that leaves a mark on a person.
- Captain Ersatz: Subverted. While a few of the heroes are clearly parallels to other established characters, Overlord to Superman, the Mite Brigade to the Teen Titans, Crimson Shadow to Batman, Simone and Calafiore strove to avoid this as much as possible.
- Censored Child Death: Subverted. We've never seen any of the heroes murdering children, but there's one shot of a submerged school bus with the words "Have a nice swim, kids" written on the side. It's also entirely likely Southern Belle killed Scout.
- The Corrupter: That thing that turned Overlord and the others into psychopaths appears to have been dispatched for the sake of deliberately corrupting them.
- Eldritch Abomination: The thing the heroes fought before turning insane, which is also the thing responsible for turning them nuts in the first place. And it appears it was just part of an entire extradimensional army.
- Enemy Mime: Mime Master.
- Everyone Hates Mimes: Invoked after Mime Master acts out how they're gonna kill the group sent to rescue Mr. Valiant.Michael: I hate mimes.Mr. Valiant: Everyone does.
- Evil Costume Switch: Cupid originally wore a red and white full body suit with a heart shaped mark on his mask. After going nuts, he's more or less wearing a stripper's costume with a heart sharped burn over most of his face.
- Fighting from the Inside: Implied to be the case when Overlord engages Fleet and the rest of the heroes to let Michael, Meredith, and Harold get out of the city.
- HeelFace Revolving Door: Overlord, who goes nuts like the rest of the heroes, then at the end tries to muster up enough restraint to give Michael and the others time to leave the city.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Comes up a few times in the first novel, most prominently at the end when Mina tackles Visua off the bridge to save Harold and the others, and Overlord does the same thing. Subverted at the very end when we learn Mina survived, and in the sequel, so did Overlord.
- Heroic Willpower: Overlord by the end of the first graphic novel.
- Karma Houdini: The people in the apartment complex who began sacrificing others to appease the heroes in the first novel are still alive in the follow up series. Although their leader, the blonde woman, runs into Karma Houdini Warranty when she gets thrown down the hole in the center of the city by Mina. She doesn't even die right away despite being more or less a ball of broken bones.
- The Mole: Lisa in the original novel is really Visua of the Mite Brigade, who decided she wanted a secret identity again and was acting as bait.
- Older Than They Look: It's implied many of the superpowered heroes have been around for a lot longer than their physical appearances would imply. Overlord is believed to be thousands of years old, having been found inside a column of solid rock.
- Off with His Head!: Fleet's Establishing Character Moment has him ripping off a guy's head at the beginning of the novel.
- Psychopathic Manchild: The heroes when they decide to play with their victims. This is especially prominent in Fleet and in Southern Belle, who at one point is ecstatic when she learns one of her old comics still has the paper dolls inside and wants to cut them out.
- Pregnant Badass: Mina.
- Raised by Grandparents: After Mina's father put her mother in the hospital, Mina was taken in by her grandparents. It seems she was mostly raised by her grandmother, as her grandfather appeared to be senile.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Discussed. Word of God from Gail Simone, when asked by a reader on twitter, revealed that none of the turned heroes have sexually assaulted anyone, and was quite vehement in making that clear.
- Red Right Hand: After going insane, many of the heroes have physical marks to distinguish their eroded sanity. Overlord's get a gaping head wound exposing his brain, Ribbon's elastic body is torn in places, Fleet looks like a corpse, and the Red Flame's head looks partially melted.
- Sadist: Southern Belle, who even Simone has described as an "Incredibly horrible person."
- Scary Black Man: As a bonus side story released on Comixology revealed, Fleet is one. His appearance has become so corpse like it's hard to tell what his ethnicity is.
- Southern Belle's design was partially inspired by Jeannette of Secret Six.
- In the first graphic novel, the man Fleet beheads in the beginning was one of the backers of the Kickstarter campaign whose perk got him included in the book. His death by beheading, was supposed to be a reference to the death of Pantha during Infinite Crisis.
- Southern Belle: Southern Belle, natch. Even before going crazy it's implied she was always a Mauvaise Belle if Scout's bitterness is anything to go on.
- Take Me Instead: When Overlord tells Michael, Meredith, and Harold they have to choose which of them will die moments after Mina's Heroic Sacrifice, each one of them tells Overlord to take them instead of the other two. This selfless act makes Overlord muster up enough willpower to keep the other heroes busy and buy the survivors enough time to escape.
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Visua as Lisa.