Writer: Christopher Long
Artist: Juan Ferreyra
Publisher: Image Comics
Plot: Emissary's "agenda" continues to be debated accross the globe since his first appearance in Times Square. He performs various miracles while world leaders continue to debate his actions and covert forces plot against him. As Emissary struggles to avert a major disaster, Tara's family may be threatened by a government conspiracy.
Comments: Reading Emissary #5 and #6 is like sitting down to a relaxing afternoon in front of the TV with popcorn at the ready only to be called into the office to take care of a business emergency or like following a great tv show for an entire season or two, only to find out that the network has pulled the plug on the show. Cursory visits to the Image comic book forums revealed that the folks who put together Emissary aren't very confident about putting out a 7th issue given the comic's low sales.
This is a real shame considering this is a fine book with a good creative team and a great premise which was just reaching its stride. Issue #5 provided the world's reaction to Emissary's exploits, and it was fascinating to read how the various factions reacted to a powerful African American godlike figure. The reactions spanned the gamut from fear to admiration to utter bigotry.
I felt that the characterizations were a good representation of what mass hysteria and confusion could arise if the situation took place in real life. The scene with the K.K.K. burning Emissary in effigy was chilling but woefully realistic. Long also does a fantastic job of developing the complicated relationship between the protagonist and his human companion Tara. Even though the latter realizes that following Emissary leads to the implosion of her family, she can't help but to heed her need to believe in his ideals and this leads to realistically portrayed tensions between herself and her husband.
As an added bonus, the fifth issue presents some pretty great pin ups featuring the lead characters at the conclusion of the story. It's fun to see the different artists' renditions of the various characters in different poses.
As good as that was, this was topped by the following issue as Emissary goes in action trying to avert a catastrophic situation as we get to see him fail for the first time. This is followed by the media putting their spin on the story which is a great commentary on the media conglomerates' ability to influence public perception. Just as important is the fact that Tara reacts to Emissary's failure in a realistic and very human-like fashion. She has a crisis of faith before realizing that the human spirit can be an amazing and resilient thing.
While this review could have further examined the current state of the market in which comics from more independent publishers and even established properties such as the Shadowline line from Image are sometimes hard pressed to compete with the big two, I chose instead to focus on what a fantastic job the entire creative team accomplished on this underrated title. Everything from Ferreyra's pencils to Lehmann's coloring works to perfection. There is the faint possibility of a trade paperback collection which could expose more people to Valentino's creation. I hope it comes to fruition because it would be a real bummer for Emissary to vanish in the same fashion in which he enigmatically appeared.
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