By: Mark Waid (writer), Peter Krause & Diego Baretto (art), Andrew Dalhouse (colors), Ed Dukeshire (letters) & Matt Gagnon (editor)

The Story: Can the uber-aliens keep the Plutonian locked up?

What’s Good: Even though this issue had a few bugaboos that I’ll discuss below, I was strongly reminded of why I LOVE this series by a scene involving the Modeus robot.  Modeus is the villain who has kidnapped the hero Scylla (the brother of the Survivor, the current biggest/baddest superhero) and we were informed about 5-6 issues ago that the reason Modeus is/was so hung up on the Plutonian is because he loves him.  And he loves him in a man-on-man kind of way to the extent that he created endless Plutonian sex dolls.  Ewwww!  Well, in this issue, the Scylla hostage situation and Modeus’ dissatisfaction with the sex bots combine in to something really creepy.

And, that is what I love about this series and it is what Waid had gotten away from a little bit.  What makes this title special is that it does things that no Marvel/DC comic would do.  We don’t really need another “edgy” superhero title.  There are plenty of those already, but there is a market niche for superhero titles that aren’t afraid to be deviant and that is where the happy spot is for this series.

What is also special about the nasty, deviant scene I’m discussing here is that it isn’t in the spoken part of the script.  Waid was confident enough as a writer to let the artist tell that part of the story merely with pictures while an inner monologue was going on.  He’s done this a few other times in the series and I really enjoy it.

The art is again good and solid.  The characters are all recognizable and well drawn.  Honestly, I didn’t even notice that this book had two primary artists until I sat down to type this review.  That’s not to say that Krause and Baretto are the same, but if you can pull off art changes like that in the middle of an issue and not interrupt the reader’s enjoyment of the story, that is a good thing.  I’m a nut about comic art, but sometimes there is something to be said for just enjoying the story.

What’s Not So Good: I was honestly kinda confused by what happened at the end of this issue.  I understood that the Plutonian had scared the crap out of the uber-aliens (the Vespans) by almost escaping and they decided to dump his butt into a black hole or some such, but I really didn’t get what happened at the end.  It was obvious that it was supposed to be important somehow, but I didn’t get it.

My other problem is with the general wussiness of the Vespans themselves.  They entered the story as an “ultimate power” and after they took the Plutonian away, they made an ominous proclamation about how they could come back.  At the time, it was a real “oh shit” moment, but their species has really dropped in terms of the menace they project.  They come across as a bunch of geeky lab monkeys, not the species who pillages entire star systems.

Conclusion: Nice to see this series get its mojo back.  It isn’t a perfect issue, but I’m happy that it has rediscovered its slightly deviant nature because we have plenty of edgy superhero stories from Marvel/DC.  But those big publishers usually won’t do deviant and that creates a niche for this book.

Grade: B

-Dean Stell