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Doctor Spectrum #5

Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2005
By: Jason Cornwell



"Full Spectrum, Part V of VI"

Writer: Sara "Samm" Barnes
Aritsts: Travel Foreman (p), Jonathan Glapion and Nelson DeCastro (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics


Plot: As Doctor Norton decides to adopt a more aggressive approach to seeing that Joe Ledger's life isn't ended, he tracks down Joe's former girlfriend who reluctantly tells how Joe's mother was killed as well as the less pleasant steps that Joe took to avenge her murder. However, the good doctor's efforts may have come too late, as Joe's body is removed from the hospital by a surprisingly ruthless pair of military agents.

Comments: The problem I'm having with this miniseries is that it has employed plot devices that can hardly be accused of being all that original. There are far too many moments where plot contrivances seem to be the order of the day. We have the stepfather who delights in telling a young Joe all the sordid details of his mother's death, and naturally we also get a well worn revenge story as Joe tracks down his mother's murderer and does his best Dirty Harry impersonation as he exacts his revenge. This miniseries also continues to struggle with the idea that it's set before Joe became the super-powered government agent he is in the current issues of Supreme Power. It's difficult to buy into the illusion that the character's life is in any real danger when it was clear from the word go that he's going to survive each and every attempt. Still, there are moments that I did enjoy quite a bit: the solid little exchange where the one man who is looking out for Joe's interests decides to throw his weight around a bit, which results in a pretty effective back and forth exchange with the government official who is pushing for the termination of the experiment/Joe's life. The issue could have better established why Mandy would still hold a torch for Joe, as frankly he doesn't look to have done much to earn her undying devotion. It is worth noting though that Mandy hasn't appeared in Supreme Power, so it's entirely possible that Joe is still in the dark about the secret she's keeping from him. Still, there's not much here for readers who had expected this miniseries to flesh out the character of Joe Ledger. It's basically a collection of plot clichés that underscore the idea that he's damaged goods.

Travel Foreman's work does have its moments. While his backgrounds are a bit sparse and his characters look unnaturally stiff at times, the art holds up its end when it comes to the clear presentation of the writing. In one great sequence in this issue, Joe's body is removed from the hospital, and the abrupt quality of the violence makes the scene far more effective. The art also nicely conveys the dark and decidedly sinister quality of the scene where Joe's stepfather is busy detailing the dirty little secrets about Joe's mother. And in the scene where Joe decides to end the man's life, there's a great little visual moment where Joe's actions mirror those of his stepfather. In a rare appearance, Dale Keown provides this issue's cover, and while it's always nice to see new work from him, he does offer up a rather stock image that I don't expect will catch the eye of most fans.



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