Dear lord where do I even begin with this comic?
Taking place after the cataclysmic destruction in Bludhaven, Gotham’s sister city is condemned as a fallout area, cordoned off with access restricted to all personnel. There are some shady dealings going on within the walls of the city though, and a select group of heroes is out to find out what exactly is going on.
Premise-wise, it’s not terrible. There’s potential here for an engaging story with a No-Man’s Land style setup, in a post-Infinite Crisis world. Sadly, the writing in this story is just so terrible that I could barely slog my way through.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had to force myself to finish a comic, truly not caring how the story played out. Nearly all of the characters in the story are random, no-name people with literally no backstory and flat personalities. The handful of metas on the scene are far from exciting, and there are just too many players/groups in the story to keep track of. Black Baron? Freedom’s Ring? Father Time? Atomic Knights? Nuclear Family? S.H.A.D.E.?? There are just way too many random characters and groups vying for attention in this brief collection. What’s more, I couldn’t care less about most of them.
This many characters still could have made for an interesting story, had it been handled by a more deft writer. As it stands though, Justin Gray just didn’t write a compelling narrative here. His story feels like it was pulled from a bad 80s action movie (and not one of the awesomely bad ones that we all secretly enjoy. I’m talking bad with no redeeming qualitities). The characters are one-dimensional and filled with cliches. The storyline is so muddled that it’s nearly impossible to figure out what’s going on, and all in all there doesn’t seem to be any real point to the entire story.
As if that’s not bad enough, there were a few pages of ridiculously politicized narrative that just irked me beyond belief.
Firebrand is a political idealist, and while I have no problem with a character embracing his beliefs and being willing to fight for them, his character was so poorly developed that he was nothing more than a trigger-happy idiot. His lengthy and unnecessary speeches didn’t rally me (as I’m sure they were meant to), but instead bored me as I trudged through page after page of his call to action. Besides, it went no where as all of a sudden a disembodied voice starts speaking to Firebrand, urging him to leave Bludhaven and go to Louisiana instead.
Um…okay?? Just like that, Firebrand peaces out and that’s the last we hear of him in this trade. I only pray that whatever random spin-off series he inevitably got isn’t collected on “the shelf”.
The story “ends” with Bludhaven exploding into nothing, and the President issuing an edict that there will be a meta-human task force meant to police anyone with superpowers. Okay, so finally there’s a point to the story, but surely this could have been covered in a more interesting storyline. The one and only saving grace of this comic is the final page (no, not because it meant the story was mercifully over….okay, not only that), on which a familiar reference from the past is made.
Command D references Kamandi, the Jack Kirby comic from the 70s whose title character I haven’t seen in print since Crisis on Infinite Earths. It’s exciting to this Kamandi might be making a reappearance in some form to the main DC continuity, so it was nice to see this small reference included, even if I had to slog my way through the entire comic to get to it. (Side note: Look at me pulling out all these random references. Comics newbie no more!)
All in all, it took a lot to get me to finish this comic, and I’m glad it was at least under 150 pages. Still, it was just way too long, and I feel like I could have gotten away with just reading the final 5 pages, for continuity’s sake. I may eat my words if this story ever comes back around and has a more lasting impact, but as it stands I can’t see much merit in this trade, nor do I have any interest in reading any continuation of the story.