By: Mark Waid (writer), Horacio Domingues (art), Andrew Dalhouse (colors) & Ed Dukeshire (letters)

The Story: What exactly is the nature of Max Damage’s relationship with Jailbait?

What’s Good: The first thing you notice when you open this comic is that we’ve got a new artist.  The art for this series has really held it back and this art by Horacio Domingues is an immediate improvement.  It’s not perfect (as I’ll discuss below), but these characters look like living organisms and not cardboard cutouts that have been posed (which we had in the first 4 issues).

Not surprisingly, art that makes you feel like these are real characters leads to the best issue of this series so far.  Anyone who has read this series from the beginning has wondered what is the deal with Jailbait.  When Max Damage was a bad guy, you “knew” what she was for.  But now that he’s reforming himself, what is she going to do?  She has no powers and you kind of wonder why he doesn’t send her home since going on missions is kinda dangerous.

Waid shows us in this issue why Damage is keeping her around.  What I like about this series and it’s sister series, Irredeemable, is that they really explore the darker side of heroes/villains.  Turns out that the reason …[SPOILER]… Damage keeps Jailbait around is that he’s protecting her.  The man has a lot of enemies…and they’re not all superheroes.  Some of them are nasty and depraved villains.  So, when Jailbait gets angry at Damage in the last issue and stomps off, she is suddenly very vulnerable.

This whole issue is really well told.  We see Damage rescuing a girl who looks similar to Jailbait and kinda kidnapping her and forcing her to wear Jailbait’s skimpy outfit.  The whole time you wonder if Damage, despite his reformation, isn’t really a pervert who has a thing for underage girls with a certain look about them.  But no, turns out the whole thing was to create the appearance that Jailbait was still with him so that his enemies wouldn’t go looking for the real Jailbait.  He just cares about her and knows that he’s gotten her into a really dangerous situation.  The reveal at the very end is twisted and sad as Jailbait (the real one) is a pretty tragic character who is easy to root for.

What’s Not So Good: Not much…  I have a minor quibble with the art that I praised up above.  The previous artist was at least close in general artistic look to Irredeemable, but this art is much more cartoon-like.  As much as this art is an improvement in making the characters look like living creatures, I could do with less cartoony/more realistic art.  That’s a personal preference more than anything else.

Conclusion: This is definitely a series to pick up.  You really have no clue what will happen next as this series doesn’t have many lines it won’t cross.

Grade: B+

– Dean Stell