Let me get one thing out-of-the-way about this series… I absolutely love the art. I mean I love the art. All three stories have one common denominator and that’s my love for the art… and I guess Joe Casey as well. I wasn’t blown away by this series as I noted in our group review for the first issue, but because of the art and my curiosity in the story I returned to it. The series is broken up in to three different stories that are set in the same world. It gives the series a uniqueness in the superhero genre and it could almost be mistaken for an anthology at first glance. The first story is “The Ballad of Frank Wells”, the second “Amazing Grace” and the third is “Agents of Change” which is definitely my favorite. I could be completely biased after reading Gamma from artist Ulises Farinas though.
With “Frank Wells” the story begins with Frank dreaming of parades and thinking he’s a hero. He still doesn’t know that he wasn’t the one to stop the alien invasion and either does the government as we see them watching footage and trying to figure out who Frank is. In the meantime, Frank decides to visit New York and the scene of everything. Upon landing he’s approached by another man with powers that speaks in riddles and can only be seen by Frank. He’s then attacked by a woman who can… turn dead. The art is very grainy and rough, but captures the essences of the world. Frank’s expressions are great, but they make you wonder if he’s really cut out to be a hero. He wants praise, but he’s too afraid to seek it out and he’s haunted by the day the earth almost ended. We know this because of his visions when he first gets into the city.
In “Amazing Grace”, Amazing Grace lies in a cosmic coma after actually saving the world. She’s in the secret golden city and they’re beginning to wonder what to do without her. Stuff happens and we’re given some back story on Grace. There’s basically a lot of set up for the next issue. The art was fantastic as everything has a rounded look to it. In some ways it reminded me of The Adventures of Tin-Tin, but I could be really off with that comparison. Grace’s design is iconic and I enjoy the fact that her hair almost always looks the same. It gives her a distinct look both in and out of her uniform.
The Agents of Change are enrolled in group therapy since they all have a ton of issues and in order to be a better team they need to work them out. It’s an interesting scene as the different personalities begin to emerge from the team, but already one of the characters seemed very different from their quick glimpse in the first issue. Elvis Warmaker is by far the best character, possibly ever created. I would very much like to see him just running around and blowing shit up and taking on the world. Wolfhunter can be his sidekick. The art is fantastic and creates much of the effect of the scene. Warmaker wouldn’t be half as cool as he is if he didn’t look the way he does. His fucking pompadour alone is awesome. To be completely honest the story is the weakest for this section, but the art is the best which balances everything. I just wish the story would stop hanging out with these incredibly cool looking characters and just make them do something.
The writing is clunky for this series. It’s completely overpowered by the narrative and caption boxes. Sadly they say a lot, but don’t really say anything at all. They don’t contribute to the mood or the character’s emotions. The narration just talks. You could just read this issue without reading a single narration caption and it would still make sense. It’s like the writing is doing double work by having this grandstanding narration accompanying the dialog which is borderline exposition. The story is the absolute weakest part of this series and it could easily be solved by trusting the art team more and toning down the narration or just making the narration say something valid or thought-provoking about the story.
The art shines in this series. For me personally it does all of the heavy lifting because if even one of the artists were to leave the book I doubt I would continue. Their different styles add a ton to the tone and feel of the world and yet they still come across as connected. The actual narration is what actually gives this series an anthology feel, but not in a good way. If you dug the first issue and can put up with an excess of reading that doesn’t contribute to anything else in the story, then pick up the issue. If you just want to see some great art then ignore the caption boxes and stick to the dialog and you’ll enjoy it a lot more.
Writer: Joe Casey
Artists: Dan McDaid, Paul Maybury and Ulises Farinas
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: 8/7/13