by Robert Kirkman (writer), Cory Walker (pencils & inks), Dave McCaig (colors), and Rus Wooton (letters)

The Story: Nolan and Allen continue their quest to collect weapons for the war against the Viltrumites.

What’s Good: The Nolan/Allen dynamic is still a fun one and it’s just enough to keep this issue alive.  The optimistic Alan works well with the more seasoned Nolan, and though Nolan does most of the narrative heavy lifting this month, the relationship still brings its share of enjoyable moments.  A couple pages depicting Nolan’s difficulties finding sleep in Allen’s apartment are particularly laugh-inducing.  It’s also always fun to see Allen extend his quirks to other characters as well; his offering his favourite food to the Space Racer was another highpoint.

Beyond this, there’s a lot of action this month and all of it continues that wacky, retro sci-fi vibe.  Then again, I guess that goes without saying when a good chunk of the issue is devoted to a battle with red dinosaurs.  There’s also a humorous sight gag where Walker draws a Coalition ship crew that looks remarkably similar to the cast of Star Trek: the Next Generation.  The twist at the end of the book is also one that is sure to pay dividends.  In fact, it’s clear that this issue is planting a lot of seeds for the future.  I’m sure a ton of what we got glimpses of here will be developed and returned to.  In that sense, the book is kind of a “Where’s Waldo” experience and will certainly be fun to come back to later.

What’s Not So Good: Unfortunately, the issue does feel a little lifeless.  The problem is that the entire book is spent with Allen and Nolan jumping from one anti-Viltrumite weapon to the next, and none is any more important than the other.  With so many items of equal importance to be collected in one issue, none of it feels significant or unique.  In fact, the book at times comes to resemble a montage sequence with dialogue.  Nothing feels vital enough and as a result, there’s a rather unpleasant blandness throughout.

It doesn’t help that Allen’s kookiness has been scaled back to give Nolan more time in the spotlight.  Normally this would be all right, but with an issue that’s already a bit on the dry side, every bit of humor or likability helps.  Allen brings that in spades, but remains a much more sparsely tapped resource this month and the result is a weaker issue.

Finally, last month I stated that while he’s not as good an artist as Ottley, Walker’s visuals last month were impressive.  I can’t really say that this month, however.  The quality of Walker’s work, while not reprehensible, has taken a noticeable drop from last month.  The book feels far less detailed.  While this is reflected in the book overall, it becomes especially apparent in the characters’ faces, which become very basic, and at times just strange, in anything more distanced than a close-up.  It’s generally uninspired work with the occasional short-cut.  That said, Dave McCaig’s efforts do help.  The red dinos are pleasing to the eye, chiefly thanks to him.

Conclusion: There’s fun to be had, but overall, a surprisingly mediocre read.

Grade: C

-Alex Evans