By: Charles Soule (story), Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque (art), Dan Jackson (colors)

The Story: This time, it’s the First Lady who betrays her husband.

The Review: If you’re a politician—any politician—you want me as a constituent because I’m pretty compassionate as far as terrible policy decisions go. I always try to keep in mind that making decisions for other people’s lives, especially in a country as diverse as ours, is nerve-wracking work even with the best of intentions and a minimum of outside interests. It may be naïve of me, but I tend to think politicians aren’t really bad people, just more susceptible to confusion and impulse than most.

So I can’t tell whether Carroll’s general horribleness is exaggerated or true-to-life. I suspect the former. Not only does he reveal that every bad piece of policy he ever made was on purpose, he’s completely unapologetic for them. In talking about the choices that led to the country’s economic crisis, he says, “My finance people warned me that it would all collapse eventually, but that didn’t matter. As long as I got my laser guns and robots, the bubble was the next guy’s problem.”

Of course, he justifies everything on the alien threat he perceived during his terms, but it’s closer to the truth that he gets off on the power he feels in taking on these otherworldly invaders. It’s not just that he’s pissed he never got a chance to unveil his plans and that Stephen’s now taking all the credit. “I had plans—I was going to keep Blades under control.” Essentially, he was going to rule the country by subterfuge—and he still might. Bereft of his expected resources, he sells out to someone who can replace them, betraying Stephen and his nation in the process.

Awful as he is, he’s not wrong about Stephen’s shortsightedness. Heck, I talked about that just last issue, and the consequences are already starting to emerge. Congressman Higgins has plans to bring Congressional power to bear in getting Stephen to talk,* leading Isobel to take some drastic steps to nip it in the bud. We’ve gotten hints that she’s not one to fool around with, and she proves us both right and wrong at the same time. Insulted at her references to their past relationship, Higgins demands, “What, you thought you’d bat your eyes at me and I’d back off?”

“No, I thought I’d offer to sleep with you in exchange for you backing off.” WTF, mate?

Things at home have gotten tense, but out in the middle of the solar system, they’re blowing up. Specifically, the Chandalier destroys one of Jupiter’s moons, and despite its relatively small size (a mean radius of 23 km compared to our moon’s 1,737.5 km), such display of power is unnerving, to say the least. Basically, Soule is doing everything possible make the aliens seem like bad news, and yet I suspect that, unlike Carroll’s self-serving tactics, the situation’s much more complicated. It’s hard to believe that when an additional two members of the Clarke are picked off, but it seems too Independence Day for the aliens to turn out to be unreasonable invaders.

I really don’t want to turn every issue into a broken record critique of Alburquerque’s art, but it has to be said. While some of the blame can be delegated to Jackson’s overly bright colors and unnaturally shiny varnishes, even on the characters’ skin, it’s the caricaturized quality of Alburquerque’s figures and his uninspired sense of storytelling that gets on your nerves. It’s DC’s house art, only on the lower end. People say there’s no such thing as an ugly baby; Alburquerque proves them wrong.

Conclusion: Another solid chapter with escalation on all fronts of the story, but the art is taking its toll.

Grade: B-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: * Although it’s sort of surprising that he doesn’t quite put it together that these super-advanced weapons couldn’t possibly have been developed in the short amount of time Stephen’s been in office.

Grade

Conclusion

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  • Ted Tyszka

    >>but the art is taking its toll.

    You’re a stronger person than I, to have made it through 9 issues. I will come for the story, but stay for the artwork, and this art took its toll on me after just 2 issues.