Current Reviews


The Programme #4

Posted: Monday, October 22, 2007
By: Matthew J. Brady

Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist(s): C.P. Smith, Johnny Rench (c)

Publisher: DC / Wildstorm

ďUnamerican ActivitiesĒ

Peter Milligan continues to build toward a huge war between obsolete, Cold War era superheroes, but if he doesnít get started on the action soon, it may get tiresome (although, that could be a commentary on the Cold War itself). He does come up with a genius idea here though: If you need to combat communists, why not get the most fanatical commie-fighter? Thatís right, here we see the introduction of a super-powered Senator Joseph McCarthy, or a guy who think thatís who he is, at least. Itís a perfect addition to a cast thatís already mostly crazy, and although heís only just barely introduced here, he should add a lot to the bookís atmosphere.

Most of this issue is concerned with giving the backstory of the Russian scientist who is still rotting in a gulag, fending off rapists. We learn how he tried his best to make himself indispensable to the government, ensuring that he was the only one with knowledge of the superheroes they built. But being valuable doesnít necessarily allow you to mock those in power, especially if the mockee is Josef Stalin. He found that out the hard way, but after so many years, heís finally become indispensable again, since heís the only one who knows anything about the insane super-powered Russians that are wreaking havoc on United States forces in the Middle East.

So, four issues in, Milligan seems to be still putting his pieces in place. Itís an interesting setup, but with one third of the story finished, one feels like the main conflict of the story should get started soon. Itís the kind of story that might read better when it gets collected in trade. In monthly installments, itís somewhat unsatisfying.

But the art is still quite good. C.P. Smith uses photo-referenced characters well, with shadow-filled frames that convey the dark mood very well. Johnny Renchís colors continue to add a lot to Smithís art, giving the red-lit underground bunkers and snowy Russian wilderness a colorful, gritty look.

So itís still a pretty good book, if a bit slow in monthly form. Hopefully the pace will pick up in the next few issues. Milligan has been laying the groundwork for an epic, large-scale conflict, and hopefully heíll be able to deliver when it counts.

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