Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artists: Tom Grummett (p), Prentis Rollins (i)
The book opens with Josiah Power returning home for the weekend, but he finds a surprise visitor waiting for him, and Josiah Power is gunned down in his own home. We then join Striker Z & Manhunter as they are bust protecting a shipment belonging to their latest client Biospheer Chemicals, when they are attacked by a group of armored goons. However, during the fight Striker Z recognizes that their something odd about these attackers, and evidence recovered in the aftermath of the fight has Manhunter paying a visit to their employer with a few questions. Meanwhile we see Skyrocket, Bork & Sapphire are busy investigating a string of attacks/thefts on several labs across the West Coast, and they see that the trio of villains who look to be carrying our these attacks include a villain who is supposed to be dead (I'm guessing it's a Suicide Squad operation). Meanwhile back with Manhunter & Striker Z, we see the Manhunter's willingness to play along with Biospheer Chemicals questionable activities is overheard by the Green Arrow, who is quick to believe the worst about the Power Company. As the issue ends though our heroes learn Biospheer Chemicals has itself a disturbing secret.
I kicking myself for not picking up on this earlier, as I should've remembered the golden rule of comics that no one ever dies when they plunge into a giant vat of chemicals. I mean Kurt Busiek even telegraphed his adherence to this rule when he used this idea in his origin for Striker Z, so when the true villain of this story shows up I really shouldn't have been as surprised as I was. Now part of it was Kurt Busiek setting Green Arrow after the son of a man, simply due to the fact that his father was a crook, and Josiah Powers' belief that this person was a good man did blind me to the idea that Green Arrow might be right. However, I loved the timing that Green Arrow has shown in this story as he's always on hand to hear these villains admit to their crimes, and in this issue he also lucks out as Power Company is also made to look rather suspect, as Manhunter's conciliatory approach to the corruption he uncovers allows Oliver to tar Power Company with the same brush. Now we know that it's likely Green Arrow will end up fighting alongside the Power Company during this arc, but I do like that Oliver does have a valid reason now to dislike the Power Company.
This issue also has itself a couple interesting secondary plots as we see Josiah Powers returns home to a very unwelcome surprise, and I have to admit I'm not entirely sure how far Kurt Busiek is going to take this idea, as Josiah Powers is still new enough to the DCU that I imagine Kurt Busiek could actually take it all the way if he wanted to, which in turn would make a huge impact on this title. We also have a nice little bit of action on a side plot that might tie into the situation with Green Arrow, as we see Skyrocket is leading half the team on a mission, where they encounter a trio of baddies, one of whom is supposed to be dead, but in fine Kurt Busiek fashion, he does manage to slip in a reference that he's well aware that Blackmass is supposed to be dead, and that there's more to this mission that meets the eye. This plot also offers up a cute little moment where we see Bork's working stiff approach to the job makes itself all too apparent, and Kurt Busiek uses it to further detail how the Power Company functions. There's also a fun little scene that looks in on Witchfire, as I'm guessing she's going to find a way to sneak a film crew on to one of their missions.
While we have seen an issue & a half of guest-art on this book, Tom Grummett proved himself as a monthly artist for most of the 1990s, so I suspect we'll be seeing his work gracing these pages for however long this book runs. His work is certainly detailed enough that I'm glad to see his name in the credit box each month, and he's a true comic book artist, as he is able to recognize the key impact moments of a story, and sell them for all their worth. Take Josiah Powers credit page visual, as the story quite literally opens with a bang, or the last page of this issue where the true villain makes themselves known. There's also some nice work on the action scenes like when Witchfire is attacked by the zombies in the graveyard, or Manhunter & Striker Z's battle an army of armored goons atop a speeding truck. The sequence where the Power Company ship is blasted out of the sky is also pretty impressively rendered, though I must confess that I wish the vehicle itself was a bit more visually exciting, as it looks like a fat Quinjet. The brief tussle in the final pages with Green Arrow is also a strong display of Oliver's fighting skills, even without calling upon his archery skills.
The issue certainly starts off strong as we see Josiah Power falls victim to an attack that is sure to leave one wondering if Power Company is going to lose its founder before the first year is done. The issue also does a fairly good job setting up it's various plots, as we have the rest of our cast involved in three separate plots, with Striker Z & Manhunter's encounter with Green Arrow being the section of the issue that I'm most interested in. Now I'll admit I'm not a huge Green Arrow fan (Hawkeye rules!), but I do enjoyed the character when a writer understands the type of situation that works for the character, and Manhunter is exactly the type of character who would rub Oliver the wrong way. The situation with Skyrocket's group also caught my attention, as there is an element of mystery thanks to Blackmass' presence, though I must confess I can't quite recall if the character was truly dead at the end of the "Joker: Last Laugh" miniseries.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!