Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Mike Avon Oeming, Peter Pantazis (colors)
Publisher: Icon Comics
Plot: As the detectives investigate the Joke's murder, their job is made more difficult by what looks to be an inside source leaking information to the media. However, Walker and Deena quickly set their sights on the original Blackguard, as they believe that he knows far more about the missing power gem that he's letting on. As they question the man, the search for the missing power gem moves in an unexpected direction.
Comments: The mystery of what happened to the missing power gem manages to offer up a bit of a twist, but truth be told I can't say that I was blown away by this development largely because the story really hasn't spent any time developing these characters. I mean it's all well and good to pull away the curtain and reveal the suspect, but the moment doesn't quite pack much of an impact when this character hasn't really played any role in the story before they stand revealed as the big, bad villain. Now I expect this person's motivation will be fleshed out in the upcoming issues, and it should be interesting to see Brian Michael Bendis explain why this character decided to travel down this path as right now it doesn't look like it was the brightest of moves, so one has to imagine they had a good reason for taking the path that they did. The issue also offers a pretty dramatic scene where the primary suspect comes to realize who is responsible, and he makes an desperate escape attempt. However, while the big reveal didn't really grab me, this issue does offer up some lovely little character moments, from Walker's non-reaction to the question about his past as a super-hero, to the equally emotionally heated scene where Deena underlines the idea to her former boyfriend that their relationship is no more. There is a pretty intense cliff-hanger moment, and if nothing else the next chapter should serve as a pretty exciting display of the new Retro Girl in action. Plus, one has to imagine her relative inexperience is going to come into play, as are Deena's new powers.
Mike Avon Oeming's fondness for blank spaces and big panels is a little disappointing at times, as I can't help but get the sense that he could've fit a couple more panels on the page, and truth be told there are moments where the unused space doesn't really seem to be doing anything but ease his workload. I'm not a professional artist, and as such my thoughts on panel layouts might be misguided, but unless one is trying to create a sense of isolation, or playing up the oppressive nature of a setting, then the artist really doesn't look to have any reason not to make full use of the page. Still there are some undeniably powerful images in this issue, from the panel where we get a look at the sorry state of the Joke's body, to the wonderfully busy double page establishing shot of the police station. The one page splash where the true villain greets the police gathered outside was also impressive.
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