Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: ChrisCross (p), Sean Parsons (i)
Thanks to Indigo's efforts the Outsider's have been given some insight into Brother Blood's evil plot, which they learn involves the use of a million sleeper agents that he has in place all across the globe. Looking for some more insight into this evil plan we see the Outsiders attempt to reach some of the sleeper agents before Brother Blood can, but we see a momentary lapse by one of our heroes results in a rather shocking attack upon them.
An action packed issue that nicely keeps things moving along at an almost frantic pace, and the big shocking cliffhanger that ends the issue is sure to catch most readers completely off guard. Now there are moments in the issue where the dialogue exchanged between the cast comes across as trying too hard to be "too cool for school", and the scene where Indigo attempts to make use of colorful colloquialisms was a real groaner, but I suspect part of this is simply me projecting my desire that Judd Winick treat this situation a little more seriously. Now, I don't mind a writer offering up a lighthearted humor-based title, or injecting some levity into what would be a downbeat serious-minded story, but in my mind Judd Winick has quite gotten this formula right as there are times when the humor almost acts to deflate any sense of danger that the book has managed to develop. Still, I will concede that I did smile at Metamorpho's unique solution to the uncooperative sleeper agent, and the scene where the hi-jacker discovers one of the passengers is Metamorpho in disguise was rather cute. The action is also quite solid as Brother Blood has been given a decidedly evil plan to carry out, and the last pages of this issue are sure to make even the most jaded comic fan sit up and take notice. For a team book I'm also rather impressed by this book's mix of powers and personalities.
As for the art, ChrisCross' style brings a lot of energy to the action sequences, and while there are times when I think he goes a bit overboard with the distorted figure work in his bid to project a sense of speed and/or impact, for the most part the action scenes are visually engaging, and the shocking nature of the final pages is perfectly captured by the art. The art also does some nice work on the little moments, as the expression on the face of the sleeper agent after Metamorpho has worked his magic was quite amusing, and the triple headlock arrival scene by Grace made me smile. I was also somewhat surprised by how effective the art was a conveying the more sinister moments of the issue, as the scenes where the Outsiders arrive too late to rescue the sleeper agents do a nice job of showing us the violent deaths these people suffered, and as I mentioned above the final pages of the issue are very solid at conveying the shocking nature of this crime scene, and the surprise waiting for out unsuspecting hero.
As I read this series I can't help but feel that Judd Winick isn't quite willing to embrace the inherent charm of the comic book medium, as he always seems to be just on the verge of mocking the whole idea of four-colored super-heroics, and as a result I often find his writing style to be a bit self-congratulatory as he managed to find yet another way to point out that he's above this medium. Than again perhaps I'm simply reading to much into his writing, and this is simply a case of his humor not quite connecting with my own sense of humor. Now he is a talented writer when it comes to offering up a nice mix of personalities, as there's little doubt who's who in this book, and I'm sure I could tell who said what line if the entire cast was sealed in a room with no light. The action is also fairly intense as while Brother Blood's villainous ranting is nothing to write home about, his sinister plan is quite evil, and the last couple pages of this issue are truly shocking, as none of the normal cheats that writers use to offer up a shocking scene like this seem to be available for Judd Winick to exploit.
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