By: Rick Remender (writer), Matteo Scalera (art), Dean White (colors) and Rus Wooton (letters)

The Story: Grant McKay and Co. are stuck in another hostile environment.

Review (with SPOILERS): I’m really happy with where this series stands as it heads into a short hiatus (presumably to allow Matteo Scalera to work ahead on the art).  Mostly, it’s just rewarding to see that Remender isn’t totally committed to the cookie-cutter stereotype characters that he created earlier in the series.

The revelation that Kadir and Grant might not really be the characters we originally thought is very refreshing.  I really didn’t want this series to be about the noble crusading scientist who is beaten down by the evil venture capitalist.  Who needs that type of class-warfare story?  If you want class warfare, it is being done tremendously well by Greg Rucka over in Lazarus.  So, it is refreshing to see that Kadir isn’t as villainous as he was originally portrayed, nor is Grant McKay as wonderful as we were lead to believe.  That doesn’t mean that this will be a role reversal with Kadir being the hero.  In fact, I hope it doesn’t end up that way.  Stories are more interesting when there aren’t defined heroes and villains.  Humans have a variety of competing compulsions and storytelling that limits people to being purely good/evil is tiresome.  Kadir seems to be financially motivated, but he’d also rather not have reality destroyed.  Grant kinda wants to make the world better, but like most scientists…..he falls into that trap of being more interested in his own research and then feels the need to rationalize a story that makes that research vital to humanity.  These characterizations of Kadir and Grant now ring true with both the scientists and venture capitalists I know.

Also interesting was this concept that Grant is polluting all of reality with his Pillar devices.  Here we see Grant and Kadir run into another Pillar under construction by the chief scientist of this bizarre Possessed Ape species.  This ape probably didn’t get the idea from THIS Grant McKay, but the implication is the all of the Grant McKays are a scourge on reality as they flit about in their Pillars causing mayhem.  It reminds me a little of the argument that time travel is impossible…..because if it WERE possible, someone from the future would have invented it and we’d have time travelers wandering all over the place in present day.

Of course, the big news is that Grant McKay seems to have died at the end of this issue.  I’m pretty confident that he isn’t dead.  We’ll see him again.  Remember, the life essence of the ape scientist was looking for a host and that life essence probably knows how to repair the Ape Pillar.  Speaking of Essence of Ape…..what will happen with Kadir’s possessed HR person?  She/It didn’t seem outwardly hostile toward the humans.  Still….the idea of apes and weird botanical life essences is a pretty trippy concept.

And did I miss something when that Techno Native American Shaman showed up at the end?  Was he always there?  Or is the implication that he made a Pillar too?  Are all of these alt-realities connected somehow?  Will we see the frogmen again?  Hmm…..

It all combines to make the issue very intriguing and I’m looking forward to the return in a few months.

If I had to fault the story, it’s that I’m not very invested in the fate of Grant’s kids and a lot of the story revolves around them.  I just feel like the kids are a plot device to move the action forward and propel us into new/cool worlds.  I find the new/cool worlds aspect of the story WAY more interesting than anything having to do with kids and a cheated-upon wife back home.

The art was again really stellar.  Scalera and White are really at their best when illustrating action and dynamism….and they truly know how to capture a SCENE like when Grant and Kadir stumble into the ape lab.  I’m just in awe of the coloring though.  I can’t describe what Dean White is doing.  It looks like he’s just using big, bold colors.  But if it were that easy, all comics would look this great…..and they don’t all look this great.  White is doing something special here.  My only nitpick with the art is that I often can’t tell the Girlfriend/Mistress apart from the Daughter.  They both look kinda the same and both have the same black hair.  I suspect this is part of why I don’t care much about the kids.  Why not have the kids decorate their spacesuits to tell them apart?

Conclusion: A very strong issue to wrap up the first arc of the series.  The characters have all moved away from their initial stereotypes and some interesting storytelling possibilities lie ahead.  The art is tremendous.

Grade: A-

– Dean Stell