"Ominous Tidings Expressed as Four-Part Harmony"
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artists: Gary Frank (p), Jon Sibal (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
As the slightly insane Zanda settles into the present day with a violent shopping spree in Italy, we see the costumed vigilante Nighthawk calls upon Hyperion for his help in the investigation of a super-powered serial killer. Meanwhile Dr. Steadman and Joe Ledger investigate the odd behaviour of one of the lab technicians, and they uncover a government experiment that might explain how the serial killer gained his powers.
The best issue of this book's run as J. Michael Straczynski has finally kicked the book into a higher gear, and the characters are now directly interacting with each other, or at least look to be moving in the right direction so that it's easier to understand why all these characters would eventually be drawn together to form a team. I also like the simple fact that there are still some serious questions about these characters as Zanda comes across as a decidedly evil creature who views humanity with utter disdain, and there's some question about whether Joe Ledger is in control of the crystal, or does it control him. The issue also further advances the explanation for why there have been an explosion of super-powered entities in the aftermath of Hyperion's arrival, and this in turn results in a great little moment where Nighthawk confronts Hyperion with a similar theory. However the back-story for the super-powered serial killer is a bit shaky, as performing experiments that are designed to give people superpowers on hardened criminals seems like a disaster waiting to happen, and one has to wonder why there wasn't tighter controls imposed over the experiment, given the high degree of risk involved. Still, I enjoyed the book's split storytelling format, as I love it when a comic book plays with how it tells the story, and this issue's experiment is a success, as to me it seemed like there was more story in these pages than the average comic.
First off I have to say that's a wonderful cover shot, as I don't think the design of Nighthawk's costume has been quite as effectively creepy as it is on this month's cover. As for the interior art I have to commend Gary Frank for his work on this issue's novel panel layout, as it couldn't have been easy to work within the rigid confines of this issue's design needs, but not only does the art tell the story effectively, but the big impact shots have a wonderful sense of power. From Zanda's response to the police officers who show up to spoil her party, to the sequence where we see a young woman become the latest victim of the super-powered killer, the art tells the story in a powerful, and at times highly unsettling manner. The last page visual also does a nice job of bringing all the issue's stories together.
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