By: David Liss (writer), Patrick Zircher (artist), Andy Troy (colorist), John Denning and Rachel Pinnelas (assistant editors)

The Story: The Operative and the Revenant must learn to play nice to start making headway on the investigation of the death of Alice Starr. And Alice’s sister, who happens to have built a jetpack, also wants a piece of the action.

What’s Good: I’m loving Zircher and Troy on the art chores. The period costumes feel authentic (check out the leather flying gear, the cut of the police clothing and the Operative’s suit and fedora) as do the sets (like the police bar). And while the layout choices are, for the most part, pretty standard, I did enjoy Zircher’s ease at switching viewing angles within a scene for dramatic effect (check out the harbor opening page). At the same time, I did enjoy the variation in the number of panels per page to manage the pacing of the story. Zircher picks a whole lot of panels to space out conversation and make a car ride look more tense, while later taking broader panels to slow down a conflict between the General and the Operative that in real life would have been a tense few seconds. His technique of having background in some of the shots and using solid, undetailed colors in other panels for effect was also cool.

What’s Not So Good: I felt that the first issue effectively launched this 5-issue series. In fact, I was ready to say that Liss is awesome. I didn’t feel the same way about issue #2. It seemed overwritten, with wooden characters and characterization and plot holes that hadn’t been apparent in issue #1. This was a disappointment. It started right away with Sarah Starr’s monologue, which tried to cram growth and depth into a character in a way that seemed inauthentic. And the conflict between the Operative and the Revenant at the beginning seemed unbelievable. By the start of issue #2, I don’t have the kind of background knowledge of either character to think they’re hotheads who fly off the handle at a moment’s notice like Ben Grimm or Pietro Maximov, and in fact, all of last issue made them both out to be controlled, disciplined heroes. So for the Operative to refuse all help, for no apparent reason other than territoriality, and then to change his mind later on, felt contrived. While I felt the writing came into focus in the bar fight (I loved that sequence), it quickly unstuck again at the hero’s summit and at the villain’s summit. And although I don’t want to dwell on this, a feeling of villainous one-dimensionality was enormous (“…it is in our best interest to maintain a climate of economic depression…”) and bordering on George Lucas-like (I apologize to Lucas’ more enthusiastic followers for taking his name in vain…). So as the book went on, all my hopes for it sort of crumbled because of the story and its execution.

Conclusion: I will, unfortunately, not be buying issue #3. I’m sad about this because this series had so much potential to be something cool and original. It’s reliance on stock characters and conflicts, as well as some overwriting, is an opportunity lost. I don’t recommend you buy it, even though the art is awesome.

Grade: C-

-DS Arsenault

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