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

The Story: The Paradigm (in alliance with the alien/demon Orian) try to take out the Plutonian before he can kill countless more innocents.

What’s Good: This comic always keeps us guessing.  Because all of the characters are new (created in issue #1 at the earliest), we still don’t really know what to expect from them, so when one of them does something slightly unexpected (like Quibit does in this issue), you don’t see it coming a mile away as you would with a Marvel/DC comic where you just know that Captain America/Batman/Spider-Man, etc. would never let ________ happen.  I also don’t get the feeling that when these characters die, that they’re necessarily coming back in a few issues.  So, when one of the good guys from the Paradigm goes down in this issue, it has a sense of finality and that is very rare in super-hero comics.   We should probably enjoy that feeling while it lasts because I think that Boom! is trying to establish a super-hero universe of their own and in a year or two, they’ll have too much invested in these characters to really kill them forever.

There wasn’t a lot going on in this issue from a story standpoint.  It was basically one big fight between the Plutonian and the Paradigm.  There are a few wrinkles that are tossed into this fight as the Paradigm fights amongst themselves a bit and a hidden villain reveals himself (kinda).

What’s Not So Good: I feel like this series is at an inflection point and I just cannot tell if it is trending up or down.  At first, Plutonian was a god-on-a-rampage.  He was leveling cities and killing superheroes in his spare time.  Around issue #8 we learned that one of the good guys (Cary) had powered-up and could fight Plutonian to a standstill and that meant that the fate of the Earth was no longer an issue.  Since then, we’ve had lots of fun, little threats, but many of them are kinda answered here: What is Orian up to?  Where is Moedius and what is he up to?  We do learn in this issue that Orian is planning an alien invasion of Earth, but that would seem to imply a villain/hero team-up to fight the greater evil.  I do trust that Waid can make that interesting, but he’ll have to because those sorts of “out of necessity” team-ups are pretty cliché.

I also feel like we didn’t get any of the subtlety that has been this series’ hallmark: No peeks into the Plutonian’s sex-fetish room, no jokes about the cliché black superhero with electrical powers, etc.

Conclusion: This was just a pretty average issue.  It seems like I’m mostly criticizing, but that’s only because this series has been so much better than this.  The last few months have had a lot of average issues in this series and it needs to step up.

Grade: C

– Dean Stell