“Last Admin Hero” (Part 2)
Writer/Artist: Graham Pearce
Publisher: Pier-C Comics
(£1 from Graham Pearce, c/o 42 Talbot Road, Preston, Lancashire, PR1 9QX or firstname.lastname@example.org)
One of the problems with multi-part stories is that while it's relatively easy to come up with a good opening and a decent ending, the middle bit often proves to be more difficult to put together. So very often, there's a sense of treading water, waiting for the climax, rather than developing the story and making that difficult middle bit entertaining in its own right. That's the challenge facing Graham Pearce with this second part of the "Last Admin Hero" trilogy, and I'd be lying if I said that there's no slack at all. The main plot does flag just a tiny bit, an inevitable consequence of the story requiring Mike Battle to remain on the sidelines, but the introduction of a wickedly clever subplot featuring mysterious undercover office soldier Admin-X (and his possible connection to weedy John Trojan) livens things up. Also present and correct is the usual biting political satire and cheeky humour, as well as the overarching spoof of the action movie genre
The art is impressive throughout; Pearce's storytelling is dramatic and entertaining, and while his figure work may not be the most polished (although it improves in great leaps with every issue), his sense of dynamic composition makes for some great visuals. It's also delightful to see how dense some of the storytelling is; I haven't seen pages with this many panels in a mainstream comic in many a year, and unlike his professional peers, Pearce knows when to use large panels and splash pages for the best effect. Perhaps that's because he isn't being paid by the page like Bendis and Millar, but whatever the reason, it makes for a comic that's well worth the money.
I should also mention the cover, which is not only a striking (and comical) image, but Pearce has decided to have some fun by giving it a tactile, three-dimensional aspect too. It's a wonderful display of the creative freedoms afforded by non-corporate comics, as well as being fun in its own right. I won't spoil things, and I doubt I could do the cover justice anyway, but suffice to say it's a neat extra touch that shows a genuine intent to entertain. That intent is apparent on every page of this comic, in the writing, in the art, and even in unexpected places like the cover, and the result is a comic that's a real joy to read; if you're not reading Sgt. Mike Battle, you're letting the terrorists win!
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