By Peter Tomasi and Keith Champagne (writers), Chris Samnee (artist), John Kalisz (Colorist)

The Story: Taylor Rhines, one of Gabe Cole’s predecessors, is being autopsied by Cole, after he finally manages to chase Alpha One out of the room. He’s looking for something, and what he finds scares him. When Alpha One joins him later and invites him for a view of the Earth from space, he accepts, but Cole’s suspicions dog him and the tension builds from there.

What’s Good: There is one tone in this book and it is tension. Right away, we are delivered this nagging sense that under the picturesque Mayberry, something sinister can be detected. By issue #6, Alpha One is now seriously creeping me out and it gets worse every panel he’s in. Tomasi and Champagne are creating a rising sense, not of fear, but of dread. There’s a difference and it’s very hard to do, but they’re doing it right. If you haven’t read the Mighty yet and don’t get what I mean, imagine Superman as a stalker.

As for the art, the scratchiness works for this story. This style of the art sets the visual tone for the book: stark, austere, it never gets too comfortable and doesn’t trust anyone. The faces tell the story and little details make it all the more real. Take note of the x-ray shots and the cut of Cole’s suit and the boy scout shine on his shoes, as they tell us more about the character than a page of text boxes. I also like that some of the depictions of Alpha One having a primitive (early) sort of feel to them, like 1930s Superman.

What’s Not So Good: If Alpha One was behind me, forcing me to complain about something, I would say that the slowness of the development of the story is a flaw. However, I’d mostly be saying that to save my skin. Tomasi and Champagne have drawn out the tension that they have created and they are doing it on purpose.

Conclusion: This is high-quality, disturbing stuff, with an impending sense of dread. Few comics go for this route and fewer still do it right. Buy this book.

Grade: B+

-DS Arsenault

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