By: Sterling Gates (story), Manuel Garcia (pencils), Fabiano Neves (art), Sandra Hope Archer (inks), Brad Anderson (colors)

The Story: It’s not every day you meet a cute girl while chasing after extraterrestrial travelers.

The Review: From the moment Vibe agreed to work with A.R.G.U.S., we always knew shis collaboration would end in bitterness and disappointment at some point.  No relationship can function without trust, and A.R.G.U.S. has never been upfront with Cisco about much of anything.  But once the truth comes out, as it inevitably must, what can he, the least experienced and most naïve member of the Justice League of America, do about it?

The title has done Cisco a favor by speeding up that inevitable conflict.  Given how obvious both Gunn and Waller have been in their deceptions, our hero would look pretty dumb if it took a couple arcs for him to catch on—especially with his brother, Kid Flash, and now a mysterious dimensional breacher (named Breacher, confusingly enough) all telling him A.R.G.U.S. isn’t to be trusted.

The real mystery is where exactly A.R.G.U.S. stands in all this.  Do they genuinely have the planet’s safety in mind and are thus willing to stoop to anything to protect it?  Waller insists to Gunn that if Gypsy goes back, “we may have an interdimensional war on our hands in the morning.”  She could be telling the truth, but it’s more likely that she’s exaggerating the threat or being purposely misleading.  Given A.R.G.U.S.’s habit of shooting first, asking questions later, if there’s a war coming to Earth, it’s probably because the agency brought it upon themselves.

Until that actually happens, though, A.R.G.U.S. maintains the advantage in this situation and with Waller calling the shots, they’re willing to go to some drastic measures to have Vibe and Gypsy under control.  On the plus side, you can’t think of a better challenge to these two much-maligned characters than to pit them against the Suicide Squad.  If they’re ever going to gain credibility, now’s the time to do it.

But for that, it’s going to take some serious efforts on Gates’ part to give the characters a really meaty storyline, not just a hip makeover.  New costumes are all well and good, but I’m a little more unconvinced by some of Gates’ other developments in this issue.  The romantic attraction between Vibe and Gypsy is groan-worthily predictable, down to their underground meet-cute (once Vibe can focus his vision to see her true, slender form, he says softly, “Oh.  Hi.”).  And as low-key as Gates tries to play Gunn’s interracial, gay marriage,* it’s hard not to see it as an easy way to score some socio-political points.  But if you really want to roll your eyes, just listen to the anti-government tirade from the folks being restrained by A.R.G.U.S.:

“You can’t hold us like this!  We’re Americans!  We have rights!”*

“So the government can just shoot anyone it wants?!”

This issue reveals how important Anderson as a colorist is to this title.  By applying his glossy, slick colors to Garcia and Neves’ art, the issue looks quite nearly as rich and exciting as it would had Pete Woods drawn it.  That’s not to suggest that Garcia and Neves are all that inferior to Woods.  In fact, one of them—I can’t tell who—has a style that’s almost a perfect facsimile of Woods’.  Basically, from Gypsy’s “bartering” sequence onward, you could almost fool yourself into thinking Woods drew the issue, which is a good thing indeed.

Conclusion: A slow issue with some questionable narrative choices, but it efficiently sets up some good action for next month.  The fill-in art is quite strong, too.

Grade: C+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: * His “[s]econd marriage, actually.  First one didn’t take.”  You know what would make this bit of backstory really interesting?  If his first marriage was also to a man.  Then DC would get the distinction of having the first homosexual divorce in a mainstream comic.

* I’m no constitutional law expert (my final exam grades in that class attest as much), but I’m pretty sure that even though we have a right to be generally free from government restraint, they can do it if there’s interdimensional danger afoot.

– I don’t know how I feel about Dante carrying a soccer ball around everywhere, including into the library where he and Cisco do research about A.R.G.U.S.  Who does that?