By: Mark Waid (writer), Peter Krause (art), Andrew Dalhouse (colors), Ed Dukeshire (letters)

The Story: The aliens are coming!  The aliens are coming!

What’s Good: Mark Waid really shook the snow globe last month!  He revealed that the deceased Hornet had made a “deal with the devil” when he asked a super-powerful race of alien conquerors to return to Earth to beat down the Plutonian if need be.  And this issue shows the pay off of the big fight with the aliens and Paradigm (think JLA) on one side and the Plutonian on the other.   The fight is really well done both from a writing/drama AND art standpoint.

One very good thing that Waid does in this issue is remind the reader that the Plutonian is a heavy hitter.  Seems funny that readers would need that reminder, but he really hasn’t been very tough since the early issues of the series.  Since then he’s had he butt kicked a few times and has mostly just moped around.  It was high-time for a reminder that he is a threatening and demented guy.  Krause does a wonderful job with Plutonian’s facial expressions!

But, the topper is where Waid leaves the action on the last page.  Not only do we have no clue what will happen next month, it is hard to even predict what the next issue will be about.  How often can you say that?

Once again, Krause’s art is very classic.  His anatomy work is really flawless.  No funny faces.  No arms that are too long.  No bizarre poses.  He even has the appropriate muscle groups taut under the spandex for whatever action the character is doing.  If you read a lot of comics you see lots of pretty splash pages and lots of flawed anatomy, so it’s nice to see good execution on something that is basic (but is MUCH harder than it looks).

What’s Not So Good: This is a minor complaint, but the reveal of Kaiden’s power to summon the spirits of the dead heroes got shortchanged a little bit.  This was the major focus of an entire issue 4-5 months ago but when it is revealed in battle against the Plutonian, it just doesn’t feel markedly different than her normal power where she is summoning the spirits of deceased samurai.  Perhaps it would have worked better if each spirit hero had attacked Plutonian somewhat alone so that their power could be highlighted instead of being a single white wave of spirits?

Conclusion: If you hate decompressed storytelling and writing for the trade, this is an issue (and series) for you.  Since slowing the car down to accept new readers around issue #12, Waid has made cool things happen about 5 issues in a row.

Grade: B+

– Dean Stell