By: Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Mark Bagley (pencils), Joe Rubinstein (inks), Nick Filardi (colors), and Chris Eliopoulos (letters)

The Story:  Super-powers are suddenly very public as Amadeus rips through police officers and his friends wind up in interrogation rooms.

The Review:  Bendis  has often faced ire from readers for decompression.  Given this, it feels odd to criticize this issue of Brilliant for moving too fast, but that’s what I’m finding myself doing.  Simply put, in four issues, things have happened too quickly.  Bendis is essentially having huge things occur that are generally the sorts of things that happen 20 issues or so into a run, not by issue 4.  As a result, these events have very little emotional impact and pack nowhere near the punch that they should.

The problem is that with only 3 prior issues, we’re not invested enough in these characters to truly care when big things happen to them.  We’re unphased by gigantic shake-ups to the status-quo because, well, we hadn’t even really settled into that prior status quo.

The thing is, with a creator-owned book with an ensemble cast like this, the first three issues of Brilliant just haven’t been enough for me to really get to know each and every member of the cast, let alone for me to become truly invested in them.  As such, when one of them dies in cataclysmic fashion with tears and explosions, I find myself remarkably apathetic.  When one character makes a huge reveal at the issue’s end, I sort of just shrug and say to myself “huh, that’s interesting” when my jaw should’ve been hitting the floor from it.  When Agent Hecker does something HUGE this month and is told that he’s now the most famous FBI agent on the planet, I’m indifferent – hell, we only really met Agent Hecker one issue ago.  It’s hard to care about the fact that his life has been so impacted.

It’s a shame that everything has been so rushed like this, because on a technical level, Bendis and Bagley do good work here.  Bendis’ dialogue is strong and really tries its best to be emotionally evocative.  Were this issue #10 or #12, I might even say that it’s heart-rending.   As it is, however, it nonetheless feels sincere and has a nice flow to it as Bendis again uses that cool trick from Powers with multiple characters giving their own opinions on events in a fashion that comes together to weave a larger picture.

Mark Bagley’s art is probably the strongest part of this issue.  It looks great, has lots of energy, and is some of the best stuff I’ve seen from him in quite a while.  The double-page spreads and splashes of Amadeus gone nuts are really epic, fantastic stuff.  Honestly, the whole issue looks really good.  It’s a pretty comic with Bagley at his best, giving us characters that certainly LOOK likable.  I will admit, however, that I did feel the last few pages started to feel a bit rushed on Bagley’s part.  Thankfully, for the most part, Rubinstein and Filardi come to the rescue.  Rubinstein’s inks give a nice, scratchy feel to the book that’s very unique, as far as inking goes while Filardi’s colour choices are fantastic throughout and do a lot to mask the rougher portions of Bagley’s art in the closing portions of the book.

It’s honestly a shame.  I want to love this book, I really, really do, but I just feel like this is too much, too soon for our characters.

Conclusion:  The book certainly looks good and it’s well-written, but the emotional attachment and investment just isn’t there.

Grade: C+

-Alex Evans