This is one of those issues where a lot of plot threads alternate on a variety of fronts. I generally love those issues, if I’m as invested in a series as I am in this one. Lots of things happen, some of them a little confusing if you’ve forgotten past details, others very exciting and cool. And of course, given that it’s Kirkman, usually funny.
Maybe the best way to look at this book is with jaded eyes like mine. I’ve seen every superhero trick in the book. So has Kirkman. He could take the Garth Ennis approach, and make the supes pay for how stupid they can be. He could go things in Erik Larsen style, and see all his childhood dreams published, one by one. Instead, he takes the Kirkman approach: rather than disparage or emulate what has gone before, instead he asks “what if?” And since this is his imaginary story, he actually has an answer for each non-hypothetical question.
So here, Atom Eve and Dupli-Kate have a girl-gab luncheon, only Kate is depressingly shallow and Eve has become ever more thoughtful, and they talk at cross purposes without ever really connecting. Mark is intent on solving some of the problems that have impacted his life, and that includes being civil to Cecil while not simultaneously becoming his flunky. That’s a delicate balance to achieve with bossy old Cecil, but it’s pulled off in this issue where Mark, though in costume, throws not one punch. He’s trying to solve things with words these days, and he’s actually chosen which problems might be fixable that way with the insight borne of his 80 issues of experience. Kirkman challenged Mark and Eve to make their business an actual force for good several issues ago, and we’re seeing them attempt to do so, step-by-step.
We also check in with Dinosaurus (a sort of Jekyll/Hyde or Bruce Banner type), Robot Rex (the clone of Rex now inhabited by Robot’s consciousness, I can’t explain it any better even after checking Wikipedia) and Monster Girl, and Universa (a sort of green Wonder Woman type who came to earth for help, but asked in a really non-productive way). The questions Kirkman answers here respectively are: what if Bruce Banner turned himself in rather than went on the run? What if Oracle had grown herself a new body? And what if Wonder Woman had attacked “man’s world” rather than being an emissary of peace?
These are good questions, and they’re not really so simple. Something bad happened to Robot and Monster Girl while they were away, and Dinosaurus’ clueless alter ego has a lot of growing up to do. But they’re all interesting slices of life in the world Kirkman has created, where the question “what if superheroes were real” is answered on a case by case basis.
Shawn Hill knows two things: comics and art history. Find his art at Cornekopia.net.