Current Reviews


Helios: Under the Gun #4

Posted: Saturday, June 2, 2007
By: Ray Tate

Writer: Jason Rand
Artists: Andres Guinaldo(p), Kwang-yong Huan(i), Transparency Digital(colors)

Publisher: Dakuwaka

The Neogenic Taskforce has uncovered a plot by the bad guys, deeply installed in the United States government, which will give them control of the world. With nobody to turn to among the chain of command, Jack Shiels, the leader of the NTF, believes they must take the evidence directly to the President of the United States.

Here's where Helios differs from lesser books, many of which published by the Big Two. Rather than betray the characters to service the plot, Jason Rand actually takes the time to write scenes where Shiels and the President do not so easily accept the false inevitabilities of the plot. The Bad Guys have to work hard to convince the President that Shiels is a danger and has gone rogue. He doesn't simply forget about everything he knows to be true about the character. Likewise, Captain Ashley Blair, the NTF's speedster, points out that there is a possibility that the President could have authorized the abuse of power. Jack takes this into account.

As a result of reinforcing characterization rather than chucking it out the window, Rand creates a story of move and counter move that's smarter than most. At the same time, Rand doesn't sacrifice the language of the super-hero. The Bad Guys predict Jack Shiels' actions, and they fortify the obstacles to stop him from reaching the President. This allows for the expected displays of super-powers and combat, all sharply rendered by Guinaldo, Huan and Transparency Digital.

Rand and the artists give the reader the expected super-powered fisticuffs. Our renegade NTF led by Shiels meet against the government-sponsored NTF. Rand makes this fight stand out from others. Outnumbered and outpowered, the renegade NTF shouldn't stand a chance against the enhanced opposition, especially when they have fought alongside of them. Surprisingly they don't, but this is a battle that's won by reason not powers.

The conclusion of Helios satisfies with a smart infiltration scheme thwarting smart villains in a believable fashion. While I'm always going to miss Gabe Pena on the artwork, Andres Guinaldo's and Kwang-yong Huan's artwork is growing on me.

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