Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artists: Gary Frank (p), Jon Sibal (i), Chris Sotomayor (colors)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: As the crazed serial killer that was handed over to government forces at the end of the last issue discovers that his captors have a proposal to make to him, his back story is divulged, and the issue ends with a chilling look at how his captors plan on making use of him. Meanwhile, the collection of super-powered individuals continues to come together in spite of their conflicting personalities.
Comments: I'm not quite convinced that the U.S. Government would be able to conceal a pitched battle between super-powered beings that left dozens dead, especially when one considers that the battle took place in full view of a mall full of witnesses, and likely a couple dozen security cameras. Still, this issue doesn't really concern itself with explaining how this situation was swept under the carpet. Instead, it invests its energies in presenting what happened to the crazed killer that our heroes believed they had brought to justice, and one has to love the final answer to this question. I mean Mark Millar waxes poetic about the idea of a person of mass destruction in interviews about Ultimates 2, but J. Michael Straczynski beats him out of the gate by ending the issue with a chilling example of how such a being could be put to use to advance the interests of a particular country. The issue also gives readers a quick tour of the killer's history, and one does have to be a little disturbed that the people running the program would look at this man's history and consider him to be the ideal subject for their experiments. As for the rest of the issue, this chapter nicely focuses on the conflicting personalities that make up the team, as Nighthawk offers up his decidedly jaded world view, and one has to love the scene where Hyperion uses a grade school joke to underscore a rather unsettling point. The issue also manages to continue to assemble the team, as Doctor Spectrum brings Fishgirl into the mix, and he's given a job assignment that is sure to bring him into contact with more super-powered beings.
Gary Frank turns in another fine issue as his photo realistic style makes it far easier to buy into the illusion that this issue is just like the real world. I mean the art does a lovely job of making the moments where the superpowers are used all the more impressive. I've seen heat vision used hundreds of times before, but the Hyperion's face after this display of power is what gave this scene its impact. There's also a number a nice little moments, from the rare display of anger on Stan's face as he discovers what Nighthawk thinks of him, or the look of childlike delight on the face of Fishgirl when she discovers Doctor Spectrum has returned. The art also does some lovely work on the final pages as the narration details the new role that our crazed serial killer is going to play, and the final page has a genuine impact, as how can one not love the sheer evil that is captured in that final panel?
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