By: Mike Costa (story), Cafu (pencils), Bit (inks), Guy Major (colors)

The Story: When the day’s flying is done, every bird must go back to its nest.

The Review: Just a few days ago, I noted in my review of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #6 that with Nick Spencer going off that title, I didn’t really believe there was any title that could really take its place.  Upon reflection, I may have overstated things a bit.  After reading this issue, I firmly believe that Costa might have, given some more, written turned this series into such a title, which makes its cancellation all the more tragic.

From the first issue I ever read, I noticed and greatly admired Costa’s sprightly writing, which has a similar combination of wit and intelligence as Spencer’s.  Even with tons of exposition being exchanged, he keeps the pace breezy, making sure each bit of information comes through a logical part of the dialogue.  He also knows the right timing to throw in a smart joke and break up the tension (“Attila wet his pants.”  “My nervous system was being short-circuited!”).

He even manages to pull off two completely different streams of narrative at the same time, one following the current action, the other a background comparison of neural and technological networks.  This latter substance provides some credible realism to the story, but it only works because Costa has the rare gift to explain complicated, abstract concepts in an easily digestible way (“…the brain is a big, tangled mess of vestigial structures and evolutionary blind alleys.”).  This allows him to indulge in these monologues not only for the sake of tone, but also to convey some important plot details, and even, to a certain degree, character work.

As you well might imagine, the only character who has the capability to engage in this kind of convoluted, scientific talk is the recently deceased Wildman, who as it turns out still exists as a copied consciousness from back in #5.  Had the title not been cancelled, I’m sure Costa would’ve figured out a way to bring Wildman back by “downloading” this copy into a clone body or something, but at least he still lives on, so to speak, in his lover’s head.  I happen to love that his idea of comforting talk while she’s unconscious is a rambling explanation of how the brain works.

Since time is short, Kunoichi’s possession by Mother Machine winds up a lot more truncated than I imagine Costa intended, and the Blackhawks ultimately overcome her in but a few pages.  Costa tries his very hardest to pace out each major moment to keep the tension even, and it’s to his credit that he succeeds as much as he does.  That said, you are always aware of the rush to wrap things up as quickly and smoothly as possible, especially once you reach the end.  Irish remarks, with clear, metafictional disappointment, “So the Blackhawks program ends in catastrophe and failure.”  Kunoichi assures him, “We’re just resting our wings.  Trust me.”  I’d like to believe in her (and Costa’s) promise, but I won’t be waiting up nights, that’s for sure.

It says a lot that for this final chapter, we get a full issue of Cafu’s art, which, funnily enough, plays up the similarities to T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents since he was the original artist on its starting run.  While he’s not honed at making particularly distinctive faces (but for their hair, Kunoichi and Lady Blackhawk have the same facial structure), he has a cinematic eye for perspective that feels like a big-budget thriller on paper.  I admit, the glossy “reflections” all over the place in Kunoichi’s head get distracting, but they serve their purpose, and hardly take away from the overall greatness of the art.

Conclusion: If nothing else, this short-lived series is evidence that DC has great talents in Costa and Cafu, and it boggles the mind why these two don’t have replacement projects in the works already.

Grade: B

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Maybe I missed something regarding Kunoichi’s background, but she doesn’t appear Japanese at all.  Or maybe that’s yet another piece of evidence regarding Cafu’s facial limitations.

– Lincoln mentions it’d take “another two billion euros” to rebuild the Blackhawks.  Seriously?  The U.S. spends somewhere upwards of $700 billion in various defense-related activities, and we can just barely prevent a terrorist from blowing up a plane with his underwear.  Two billion euros for a special ops team that “saved the world a few times over” sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.