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Number of the Beast #4

Posted: Friday, June 13, 2008
By: Ray Tate

Scott Beatty
Chris Sprouse, Karl Story (i), Johnny Rench (c)
Wildstorm / DC
"Angels from On High"

Just kind of blah I'm afraid. The story doesn't move fast enough. The art is too crowded and overcome by the redundancy in the writing to be as outstanding as it has been.

Dr. Sin has taken over the virtual reality prison, known as Number of the Beast. While the military attempt to break into the bunker housing the VR, The High tries to bring the Paladins back to reality.

The trouble with this story is that we knew everything two issues ago, and the series seems like it's spinning its wheels. This could have been avoided had Beatty simply dropped the scenes of soldiers being butchered as they contend against the bunker's defenses.

I couldn't become involved in the deaths of the soldiers because they weren't even faces. Their leader knows about Number of the Beast, revealed to be the name of the initiative, and is a cog in the machine that created the prison, for heroes.

I felt more of a twinge seeing one of the Paladins truly die, but this scenario is also flawed. While the character clearly didn't deserve his fate, he's still the most unlikeable of the Paladins. So it's difficult to feel sorry for him.

I can admire the ingenuity of the villain, but that shouldn't be the only plus a book has to offer. The Paladins mistakenly believe the High to be a murderer and attempt to use a "kryptonite ring" on him, but these scenes lack substance since you know everybody is trapped in VR.

They're fighting the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, but they're not really fighting anybody. The Horsemen are VR creations, and the battles aren't all that impressive. They're more fatigued than anything.

In the end I'm left wondering if Number of the Beast actually has enough story to sustain eight issues. This issue of the mini-series could have been severely edited and combined with another issue. I hope it's the exception proving the rule.



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