Disappointing. That sums up this issue. I was enjoying this series so much, but these last two issues have been terrible. The story set in the past has been pointless thus far and while I’m sure there’s some payoff approaching there really doesn’t seem to be any at the moment which makes it just boring to read. I mean we already know what happens to Red so what does it matter what his underdeveloped connection to The First is? If it was supposed to be a Joker and Batman type deal then it failed because it’s a one-sided conversation with Madder Red and he forgot the topic. It’s a shame because I loved the Madder Red character in the beginning and really craved more of him when he was crazy. The difference here is that he’s in control and that’s just meh. It doesn’t matter at this point if The First stops him and overcomes impossible odds, because it’s clear that the rest of the world isn’t going to help him. Not the police, not other heroes… so where’s the real threat if we already know the outcome?
The cops get ready to storm the school where our villain is set up. I don’t remember how Fillmore figured out the school angle because his role in the series has been tragically diminished; as they’re about to go in their own people open fire on them because bad dude has brainwashed tons of people in the city. Ramirez and Fillmore make it into the school, but conveniently Ramirez is shot and taken out of action leaving Fillmore to take on the big bad solo once again.
The great thing about the first story arc and even the way that this story arc began, was that it wasn’t formulaic. It had structure and pacing, but each issue didn’t feel like a copy of the last, but these last three have felt like reading the first story arc and really the same issue over and over. The simple fact that Ramirez was taken out of action steps away from the bad guy for a second time is just lazy. By now she should be picking up hints on who Fillmore really is and what better way than to have a seed be planted here and then have the big bad activate programing that puts her in zombie mode rather than what actually happened: A gun shot and then she passes out… so she’s dead? No? That’s strange considering how realistic so many of the deaths and murders have been in the series…
Brown’s art really doesn’t work in this issue. I had problems with it in the last and it’s even worse in this issue. He’s still doing his best Riley Rossmo impersonation, but now you can see the effort that it is taking and it’s making for bad proportions and just an overall dip in the visual storytelling and quality. Sure there are still some cool aspects like the villain’s face appearing pixelled out when Fillmore sees him for the first time, but the rest is very inconsistent. Also The First’s mom looks like a dude.
I hope that the next issue is the end of the arc because that’s all I have left in me to give this series. If there are two more issues than I might just check out here and save myself the effort. I don’t know what happened to this series, but this second arc is just coming across as a watered-down repeat of the first and really who the hell wants to read that? I’m afraid the charm of this series has worn off so if you didn’t like the last issue don’t bother with this one. If you’re in the same boat as me then you might also want to finish this review and check to see how many more issues are left in the arc before giving any more money to it.
Writer: Nick Spencer Artist: Ryan Browne Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 11/27/13