By: Justin Jordan (story), Ron Frenz (breakdowns), Julius Gopez (pencils), Scott Hanna (inks), Nathan Eyring (colors)
The Story: It’s hard to tell if everyone’s gone crazy because of a Jekyll serum or severe jet lag.
The Review: Even though Jordan gets to work with some pretty recognizable characters, it’s apparent that some intensive work needs to be done to make them stand out in people’s minds. Team Seven ostensibly works within a much more realistic framework of conflicts than, say, the Justice League, and so they tend to come across a little more realistically than their superheroic peers. However, the closer characters get to reality, the harder it is to make them memorable.
After all, you’re dealing with a whole group of people who are pretty darn smart, intellectually, street, or otherwise. Not only that, but they are all of them professionals in their field. Smart, professional people tend to react reasonably in crisis situations, and so has Team Seven. In such circumstances, there’s no meaningful opportunity to show off your colorful personality. So even though there are obvious differences between Amanda Waller and Cole Cash, you don’t read this issue and instantly recognize a totally Waller or Cash “moment.”
In team books, you generally have three options to distinguish yourself. You can have very bold, assertive personalities, which we’ve already established is a tougher feat for this title. You can have an interesting array of skills and abilities. Thus far, however, except for Ramos’ piloting and Bronson’s mecha suit, everyone falls into the guns a’blazing realm of things.
And if you can’t make your protagonists supremely interesting in themselves, you might pit them against some supremely interesting opponents, and that might force them to reveal more of themselves. Unfortunately, once you sweep away all the fancy language in the issue, what you’re left with is your typical “sadistic terrorist with a bio-weapon” storyline, although one that can turn everyone crazy—but even then, that’s not really novel in the superhero genre.
Still, you’ll find Jordan’s writing as smart as ever. Personally, I always long for more technical realism in comics. That’s why I really appreciate little details like Dr. Montez introducing himself as “research fellow at Arkham Asylum.” It makes me believe in him a whole lot more than if he were just some generic lab-coated researcher who coincidentally works on a floating gulag. Instead, you get a bit of specific background out of a minor character and some contextual relationship to the DCU at large. It’s clever stuff.
Less smart is Jordan’s use of narration, which does little to embellish the plot at hand, and even as commentary on the running action, it lacks humor or wisdom or insight. It just resorts to the usual “dramatic” blurbs: “I think we’re all expendable. I think we’re here because this is an opportunity.” “This is power. Power that can be used.” It becomes even less useful when it merely summarizes everyone’s shtick as if Jordan’s introducing them for the first time.
A lot of the issue’s scripted weaknesses might be covered up by completely gripping, slick, dynamic art, but instead we get Frenz and Gopez, who offer an example of why DC art gets decried so often. Everything about it looks generic, from the appearances of the characters themselves to the way they move in action. Worst of all, there’s a lot that plainly doesn’t make sense, whether it’s Higgens getting clawed in the chest and you never seeing a single wound on him afterward, or Dr. Montez literally staring at a wall and making observations about the unseen view below. Eyring makes some noticeable coloring mistakes in addition to using altogether too bright and cheery hues for an espionage thriller. For example, he colors Dr. Montez’s serum red, even though Dinah describes it as the “black stuff.”
Conclusion: Sub-par art and a rather bland script combine to wreck most of the promise Jordan established in early issues.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – I do love that Fairchild can maintain an ongoing banter—with himself. Remarking on the possessed horde upon them, he says, “Awesome, right?” He then shoots back, “‘Shut up, Fairchild. It’s not like a zombie movie, Fairchild.’” To which, he replies, “Yeah, it’s like a zombie, movie with freakin’ hipster zombies, is what it is.”
– If in fact a zombie movie does come out with actual freakin’ hipster zombies, I will officially lose all hope for our cinematic culture.