"Déja Vu All Over Again"
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Sean Phillips
Colors: Carrie Strachan
Letters: Rob Leigh
Publisher: Wildstorm Comics
$2.95 U.S. / $4.50 CAN
As Holden moves forward on his plans to play Tao and Lynch against each other in order to advance his own interests, we see that another player is brought into play, as a hired killer who calls himself the Grifter is captured and brought before Tao. Seeing this as a golden opportunity to spark a conflict between Lynch and Tao, Holden breaks into Tao's office and gathers proof that is sure to upset the delicate balance. However, Holden's actions do not go unnoticed.
I did my best to avoid the whole Image scene during the 1990s so I can't say I'm overly familiar with Grifter, but I image his appearance in this issue will spark some interest for the fans who picked up the series that featured the character (Wildcats?). However, my lack of familiarity with the character doesn't really impact my enjoyment of this issue as the role that Grifter played in the Sleeper universe is nicely spelled out in this issue, and if nothing else the character does make for a pretty imposing figure that one can imagine will block Holden's efforts to escape from his current position between Tao and Lynch. This issue also does a pretty solid effort of playing up the idea that Holden is playing a game that he's clearly not all that good at, as he's placed his trust in Miss Misery, who has turned on him, and while it's entirely possible that Holden is aware of this betrayal, the writing is doing a nice job of making it seem like he's not. This issue also manages to draw a pretty effective parallel between Grifter and Holden, as we see both men have been played for fools by Tao and Lynch, and it's hard not to feel sorry for Grifter who looks to be little better than a confused puppet-like figure jumping through hoops. There's also some pretty intense action in this issue as Holden takes part on Grifter's capture, and it's always nice to see a battle where both sides look to be giving as good as they get. In fact my only real quibble with this issue is that it does seem to be a little late in the game to be introducing what looks to be a key player in the upcoming climax, as I really haven't formed much of an attachment to Grifter.
Sean Phillips turns in a pretty solid effort, and while there are moments where one is left to wonder if anyone ever turns a light on in the pages of this book, I can't deny that the continual darkness does convey a nice sense of impending danger. The art also does a lovely job of selling the battle weary status of Grifter, as even the simple shots of the character walking down the street manage to sell the idea that this man has been beaten down by the black ops environment. However, the art also manages to deftly present how dangerous this character can be when cornered, as there's a great little moment where we see Grifter is more than prepared to face the people who have followed him into the alley. I also have to say I rather enjoyed the expression on Miss Misery's face when Holden return from his secret mission, and asks her if anything happened while he was away, as it perfectly sells the character's duplicitous nature.
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