"The Deconstruction of Mark Milton"
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artists: Gary Frank (p), Jon Sibal with Mark Morales (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: Deciding that Hyperion needs to be brought back under their control, government forces decide to employ some less than direct means to turn humanity against their beloved hero. Their first step is to make the public question whether they should trust a being as powerful as Hyperion, as they suggest that he might have been responsible for the attack in the mall that left a dozen dead. They then set a reporter on a path that will uncover the idea that Hyperion isn't even human.
Comments: This issue stands up as the single most impressive effort that J. Michael Straczynski has produced, as he's essentially offered up the perfect Superman versus Lex Luthor story. While the current trend in the DCU seems to be moving Lex Luthor away from the engaging status quo that John Byrne created for the character, as a calculating villain who masked his actions behind the disguise of a highly respected business man, J. Michael Straczynski has perfectly captured this lightning in a bottle as he offers up a story where the seemingly unstoppable Hyperion falls victim to a truly unsettling plan where the truth is so twisted that Joe and Jane Public come to look upon Hyperion as a threat rather than a beloved hero. Of course, over the course of this series we've received numerous hints that Hyperion might not always be acting in the best interests of humanity, as certain scenes suggest he's the first wave of an impending invasion force. As such, while the military's actions might be centred around getting some measure of control over Hyperion, it's also quite possible that they might be doing humanity a favour by making the general population a little wary about Hyperion. There's also a lovely bit where one of Hyperion's allies is turned against him, as the scene where Stanley is given a laundry list of reasons why he shouldn't jump to Hyperion's defence, I was actually quite surprised to see Stanley wasn't willing to step up to the plate. It's not often a character is found wanting when their heroic integrity is tested. There's also an interesting side plot involving the budding relationship between Doctor Spectrum and the fish-woman, and I'm looking forward to seeing where this story is going to take these two.
Gary Frank turns in another fine effort, as he does a lovely job capturing the underlying premise that the methods that are being used against Hyperion are quite precise & methodical, and the visual of a clock being taken apart makes for a wonderful visual element that nicely captures this idea. The art also nicely captures the cold, calculating nature of the man who is working to bring down Hyperion. I also loved the scenes where this man's underlings are sent out into the world to do his dirty work, as there's a lovely reaction shot where Stanley comes to realize that jumping to Hyperion's defence would not be in his best interests. There's also a nice scene where Doctor Spectrum pays a visit to his underwater friend, where the art effectively captures the various emotional reactions of the young woman as Joe questions her about the accident. The big scene where the two leave the ocean sells well the power that Doctor Spectrum commands.
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