Monarchy #6

Posted: Sunday, August 19
By: Bruce Tartaglia
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Writer: Doselle Young
Artists: John McCrea(p), Garry Leach(i)

Publisher: DC/Wildstorm

This book continues to impress me.

I should start by mentioning that I made a mistake in my review of Monarchy #5. The story focused on Spiders and Fireflies as metaphors for the different kinds of heroes such as Midnighter and Apollo respectively. Bendix was obviously a "spider" and I assumed that Jackson King would create another spider. Well, I missed that Christine and Jackson were walking around in the dark with flashlights and were, thus, fireflies.

This is relevant to issue six because Jackson continues to pursue new members and much like Bendix in the beginning of issue five, gather fireflies. Jackson takes characters that have previously been considered "also rans", himself included and revives their convictions and abilities. Issue one demonstrates this mission/theme with Jon Farmer, the priest that has lost his faith. Issue two focuses on his efforts to retain Union's soul. Issues three and four show Christine awakening the power and potential of a one hundred year old "never ran". This current story arc could almost be retitled, "Brightening the Fireflies".

In this issue, the team's efforts to recruit and restore a superhero who is so sadly inept that the burglars he attempts to thwart do not even notice him as they casually escape. He is in name and in deed a "Lost Angel". The opening two pages allude to the potential power and significance of this new character; the suggestion seems to be that he has a kind of "soul of Los Angeles" quality that is demonstrated by a constellation of this hero as mapped out by freeways, exit ramps and buildings. This belief is bolstered by the fact that Lost Angel's initials are, of course, LA and his lives in Los Angeles. Along the way, we also learn that the team's resident "trenchcoat with attitude" character, Condition Red, originates from similarly inauspicious circumstances.

I like Lost Angel, Bram, a great deal. He feels like a modern Peter Parker. Pete, thankfully, has rightfully gained his confidence. Bram has not. His apartment is a reflection of a modern day bachelor pad. (Don't ask me how I know this, because I'll never admit that my apartment has ever looked that bad.) He is a painfully awkward, almost laughable character, but his aims are undeniably noble, and so, I at least, like him.

A good portion of the rest of this issue is, to use Jackson's own words, a distraction, but for my money, a welcome one. "Extra Dimensional intruders have slipped through an abscess in the bleed requiring the team's immediate attention." (Can't sum it up better than that!) This provides us with some fun fight sequences. As intelligent as I like my comic books, it is always nice to release some tension with a fight. In this case, there is a fantastic shot of Jon Farmer on page 3. Very dynamic. These is also some comic relief as the local hardcase, Jackson King, gets jelly fish guts poured all over him mid fight. It's a bit harder to take his brooding too seriously as a mucous like substance rolls down his ever furrowed brow. This issue also reveals that another alien race views King as "The Great Destroyer" hellbent on the genocide of their people, the Chimerans. Jackson does not deny this.

On a separate note, there is an especially mature moment in the book as Jackson and Christine share a shower without resorting to any sexual overtures or innuendoes. The point of this scene affirms the strength of their relationship. Personally, I appreciated not being pandered to as most comics would implicate a sexual resolution to this moment. It was refreshing to see that these characters seem to have a strong and resolved love. Nice.

Lastly, I should mention that there is a "big reveal" at the end of this issue, but since I do not know much about the Wildstorm universe, it does not make much of a dent on me. Nevertheless, I am curious to see what happens next.

I have often been outspoken about John McCrea's art and while this issue is far from flawless, McCrea's art is much stronger. He does not use his blackened silhouettes technique in this issue and his facial close ups covering half of a panel are less gratuitous. The detail paid to Lost Angel and most of the fight sequences are undeniable and enjoyable. Also, his grasp of King's imposingness and intensity seems to be strengthening, but some more nuanced expressions for King would be great.

All in all, I enjoyed the pace of this book. The white borders help it read a bit more like a traditional superhero book (this title usually has black borders). The action leads the story along while still providing insights to our characters and further reaching story arc. Overall, I found it to be another strong issue.

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