I’ll admit I’m a bit confused about the overall story of the “Hit List Agenda”, but I’m still enjoying the numerous books that tie into it. The one uniting factor that each series has is Iris and the second issue of Orchard has her making an appearance. What makes this book stand out more than the other Executive Assistant titles is that this one is a bit more hardcore when it comes to the gun play and violence. This issue begins with yet another Executive Assistant being introduced; this one remains un-named and has a very different look than other assistants. She’s almost Assassin’s Creed inspired with her white hair and head gear that covers her eyes. The rest of her scantily dressed as she rains down on a shipping yard, you know one of those shady mafia deals that are either the scene of a massive murder or an FBI bust. You can imagine that this particular dock scene ends in blood as the unknown assistant tears apart the cartel’s men in a matter of seconds while the leader narrates the scene.
Then we’re back to Orchid as the cartel leader’s son and her go on a mission to an unmarked government facility. The son plays the lost idiot and is quickly scared away by the guards, but he drops his payload off in her desired position. Orchid makes quick work of the guards before blitzing the building and killing the entire boardroom of men that secretly runs the country. That’s nearly the entire issue except for the shocking ending which I absolutely loved.
The story as I said is still a bit loose and hopefully the pieces start to fit together with the third issue. In terms of a crossover success if those pieces fit together then this will actually be a good model for crossovers, one that doesn’t punish or reward you for reading all of the series. Iris is clearly supposed to be the main storyline and yet all of the series seem as important, this is helped by the fact that Iris isn’t even the star of her own title. Lobdell does a great job with his part in the story for this issue, but could beef up the action a bit more to play to the artist strengths. He tends to do a bit too much exposition that’s really not needed in this type of action story.
The art continues to be great with series artist Micah Gunnell drawing some intense action filled with gore and sexy women. Even though Orchid and the unknown assistant are both dressed in skimpy outfits they don’t gush sex appeal and really they’re look is so intense it’s hard to find them attractive. Gunnell doesn’t have that one scene of awesome over the top violence like he did in the first issue, but instead he does have several smaller scenes like the issues opening when a rain of bullets drill down through the faces of the dock workers. There are several scenes like this throughout the issue. Probably the best drawn scene is of the cartel leader lighting a cigar. It’s a tight close up of his face and at first it looks strange due to the pencil work on the cigar and the nose, but after looking at it a few times I couldn’t help but really like it. The pencil work almost captures the different lighting and texture of match that is lighting the cigar, but whatever Gunnell’s intention I enjoyed it.
Frankly this is the only crossover event I’m keeping up with, it has my attention and it has zero risk because these are characters that I have a long reading history with. I honestly don’t know what to expect from the story at the end which is more than I can say for Fear Itself or Flashpoint. If you’ve missed out on the series it’s not too late to get caught up and really you only need to tackle one series at a time. It might seem like quite the investment, but I guarantee that it’ll still be lower than the tie-ins that the “Big Two” are offering.
Score – 3/5
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Micah Gunnell
Publisher: Aspen Comics