Writer: Jason Rand
Artists: Andres Guinaldo(p), Kwang-yong Hyun(i), Transparency Digital(c)
Last issue of Helios: Under the Gun, Major Kyle Redding and Captain Jason O'Conner made the choice to go AWOL from the NTF--the Neogenic Task Force. This issue they join Captain Ashley Blair, who when learning that her love interest Colonel Jack Shiels still lived, went AWOL. Corrupt agencies within the NTF, including Senator David Strickland and General Miles Hawthorne, targeted Shiels for termination. This assassination attempt forced Shiels underground.
Writer Jason Rand involves the reader with a pay-off fight that pits the old NTF against the new NTF, some of whom are innocent and ignorant of the internal backstabbing. Others simply do not care; the old "I was obeying orders," routine. The remaining team members' rationales remain nebulous, though perhaps the personalities that Rand reveals through dialogue hint at how each individual feels about his or her marching orders. You feel sorry for one particular new NTF operative. Such is the skill involved in characterization that you know she must feel betrayed.
The most striking difference between this issue and previous issues can be found in the artwork. Purity's Andres Guinaldo and inker Kwang-young Hyun run the NTF through an excitingly illustrated knockdown that Rand directs. Rand accounts for all their powers, including subtle ones such as talking at super-speed. He shows each strategy to be smart and plausible, but the reader knows the new NTF will lose. This is because Rand demonstrates the old NTF's superior teamwork. Only vastly superior force, either in raw power or numbers, can overcome such experience.
Guinaldo's Purity is in black and white, and his and Hyun's detailed linework looks even better in color. Although I still can't help missing Gabe Pena. Pena's artwork appeared different without diminishing the anatomy or the scale of the subjects. Still, Guinaldo is a more than able substitute, and he does keep each of the NTF looking distinctive.
It's another great issue of Helios: Under the Gun. The quality of this book is becoming almost predictable.
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