Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Marc Silvestri
Publisher: Image Comics/Top Cow
Plot: Following his first mission as a Hunter Killer where he had to contain a young girl whose powers lead to her killing all organic life around her, Ellis becomes an operative and joins the Hunter Killers but experiences a crisis of fate. Samantha is then ordered by Morningstar to bring Ellis to him.
Criticisms: As good as this book is (and itís very good), it isnít without flaws which arenít necessarily linked to the story. One problem is it doesn't get published on a monthly basis, and therefore the irregularity of publication can make for long lapses between issues and can also make getting a copy of each issue more difficult than picking up a collection in a trade format. (There is a 3 month gap between issue 4 and this issue for example.) Like a television show which has been running reruns for several weeks, the interruption in the flow of the narrative can be somewhat annoying. Another drawback is the book appears to be slowing down in terms of pacing, following the introductory pages dealing with Ellis adjusting to the Hunter Killer missions, not much significant character development happens with the exception of Morningstar meeting with Ellis and relating some of Samanthaís previously undisclosed back story.
Praise and comments: Given all this, I am still immensely enjoying this comic because of Mark Waid and Marc Silvestriís talents and the interesting back story they have created for the principal characters. Looking at a Silvestri drawn comic takes me back to lazy summer days reading some excellently crafted X-Men comics brilliantly penned by the likes of Chris Claremont and drawn by Silvestri. His artwork seems to have only improved since those days. The Sapiens can be thought of as Imageís answer to the Marvel Universeís mutants, and that is an element Silvestri appears very comfortable rendering. This issue also provides other interesting sapiens in action like Scryer who has a large brain (Like the Leader in Incredible Hulk, except it is not green) and who can predict the future. Ellis has not yet realized he might be a pawn in a much larger conspiracy game and the first part of the book is dedicated to showing him in action at various Hunter Killer missions apprehending Ultra Sapiens alongside Samantha. However, Ellis seems to be questioning the programís motivations and isnít comfortable with all the killings. His moral soul searching leads him to question if heís the only one in the program with a soul. This leads to a meeting with the enigmatic Morningstar who in the emerging mythology of Hunter Killer controls the government and almost everything else. He relates to Ellis Samanthaís origin and her first encounter with Wolf, but the reader is left wondering how much of the story is true and how much has been embellished or distorted. Before Morningside can extract more useful information from Ellis, he is interrupted by Samantha who informs him of ďa situation in North Carolina.Ē
This rather decompressed plot leads to the bookís cliffhanger, and there is a mildly interesting bonus story, a colorful five page preview of Imageís new Warren Ellis series Down.
Final thoughts: This is the ultimate paranoid conspiracy book for the modern era. Waid and Silvestri do a masterful job of keeping as much in the dark as possible while concurrently telling a good story with superb artwork and imaginatively created characters. I like the integration of computer elements such as the pictures of U.S. Presidents at the top of page 5. The creators just better make sure to pick up the pace so readers sick of decompressed Marvelesque comics donít abandon the book.
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