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Sgt. Mike Battle: The Greatest American Hero #10

Posted: Friday, January 18, 2008
By: Kelvin Green

Graham Pearce
Graham Pearce
Pier-C Comics
In the final installment of Graham Pearce's action movie pastiche, terrorist group A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. are close to victory, with only super soldier Mike Battle and temporary admin assistant John Trojan left to oppose them. Except Battle has gone and got himself captured...

Pearce delivers a satisfying finale here, bringing the story to a suitably witty, yet action-packed, close. The blockbuster action movie pastiche at the heart of the plot has provided a strong framework on which to hang the usual spoofing and satire, and it's that plot that does the most heavy lifting this issue, as the office-based puns and gimmicks do begin to wear a little thin. Pearce's grasp of storytelling and pacing is better than that of most of today's professionals, and despite the (intentional) familiarity of the plot, it remains thoroughly compelling.

Part of this is due to the sheer density of the storytelling. There's not a wasted panel in the entire comic, and there's very rarely less than six panels per page; often there's a lot more. That's all the more impressive when one takes into account the forty-odd pages; I think there's more actual story in this one issue than in the whole of bloated nonsense like Marvel's Civil War. Despite this visual barrage, the tale is never cramped, and Pearce maintains good clear storytelling throughout, thanks in part to his vibrant and larger-than-life figure work; he'll win no awards for realism, but the vaguely Dragon Ballzish style Pearce uses allows for suitably dynamic and dramatic visuals, including a particularly fun play on the traditional rain-soaked hero/villain showdown.

This latest adventure for the good Sergeant is largely an improvement on previous issues. Graham Pearce's skills as a storyteller visibly improve with every release, and they were none too shabby to begin with. Unbridled enthusiasm for the medium exudes from every page, and if I had to scrabble around for a criticism of the comic, it would be that it's just not quite as laugh-out-loud funny as previous issues. That said, even if the jokes have faded into the background somewhat, confident storytelling has emerged, and it's great to see solid, unpretentious, action comics done so well.



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