By: Mark Waid (writer), Peter Krause (Artist), Andrew Dalhouse (Colorist)

The Story: The story opens in Plutonian’s secret fortress, where he takes a disk associated with Modeus, his arch-foe, and uses it to speak to the entire world at once. He doesn’t have a message for the world. He just wants to scare everyone even more. Waid then opens up an old memory of Volt’s, back when he was just starting with the Paradigm, when he noticed something between Plutonian and Bette. And we finally see a flashback that starts to show some of what may be driving Plutonian’s anger. In the meantime, Qubit’s Artifical Intelligences have been working to try to figure out where Modeus has gone, because Qubit figures that to fight Plutonian, they’re going to need better advice. What the AI’s uncover is mysterious and startling at the same time.

What’s Good: Waid and Krause are in fine form and deliver a strong story that sustains the tension of the series. Plutonian continues to fascinate. You can’t look away from a mass murderer, especially when no one can stop him.

I’m really enjoying the Qubit and Volt characters. Qubit is the cold brains archetype, while Volt seems to be the chip-on-his-shoulder, Luke Cage-type. Like in the last issue when Waid knitted together Qubit’s flashback to the present story, this month he does the same with Volt’s. The flashback shows us what Volt used to be like, and the present shows us how he has changed. Qubit’s AI’s are intriguing and I can’t wait to see more of them.

Artwise, Krause just keeps getting stronger. He uses deft, scratchy lines to shadow scenes and alternates between low-detail, broad views where people are parts of the environment, and close-up, expressive faces to show fear, insanity, desperation, overconfidence and distrust. Yet none of this takes away from the dynamic, but realistic poses needed to communicate energy and movement in the comic book medium. I also have to take my hat off to Andrew Dalhouse. Many of the pages bear dominant colors, either in the panels or even outside. Dalhouse effectively signals changes in mood and scene very subtly with this technique.

What’s Not So Good: Waid and Krause are treating us like intelligent readers, so only through strategically-placed flashbacks do we see the back story coming together with its clues. This means that the reader has to do more work to keep up, but the effort is well worth it.

Conclusion: A tightly-plotted story with great art, priced to bring in new readers. Get it while you can.

Grade: B+

-DS Arsenault

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