Creatively, the first few issues of Men of War has been a fine (if a bit flawed) addition to the New 52, a solid but largely unspectacular main story, a killer premise, all brought down in part by a severely lacking back-up feature raising the price. Men of War #4 doesn’t completely fix the issues I’ve had with the series thus far (too many stories ending in superhuman deus ex machina, too little focus on the military’s adaptation to superhumanity), but it does resolve at least one major issue: the back-up feature here is not only good, it’s better than the main piece.
While lebeau continues to give you a fantastic title-by-title breakdown of the upcoming relaunch, I’m going to take a slightly different take on things. With the full solicits revealed, release dates included, we now have a slightly better idea of what to expect come September. So I’m going to break down the solicits by release date, talk a little bit about what I’m going to get – and what I’m going to skip – and why, so you’ll have an idea of what some of the books that will definitely see coverage here will be… and which of your favorites you can heartily mock me for skipping.
So, with that brief introduction, on to week one of the solicits, otherwise known as… September 7th.
Of the Final Crisis Aftermath titles announced a few months back, Escape seemed like the worst fit. Why had the Global Peace Agency so rapidly gone what seems to be bat-shit crazy? Wait, Nemesis? And who the hell is this writer? Nothing was clicking for me as I read the description, but Final Crisis left me with good will, and I loved the cover art, so I decided to check out the first issue and see if it came together for me as I read.
Unfortunately, it never did.
Now, to clarify, this is not to say that I think that Brandon is unskilled or that the series will not come together. The issue gave me a great deal of hope that, as a collection, it could be quite an interesting read, thanks to a dozen or more small touches that ratchet up the suspense and mystery. Unfortunately, as a single issue, it follows the worst of the LOST stereotypes – all questions, no answers, no sense, no grounding. There are familiar faces, but they are hardly recognizable as the characters we knew, and since we have little to no idea what’s going on here, there is little reason to get invested.
Rudy’s art complements the twisty nature of the issue. Though his figures are often rather stiff, he manages to capture the trippy confusion quite well, especially in a brief showdown between Count Vertigo and Cameron Chase. The panel structure and transitions are also extremely well-handled, helping the issue along in terms of pacing while making sure your eye is always engaged. When the panel structure helps reinforce the claustrophobic nature of the writing, they’re doing something right.
As a collection, when there is not a month or more between each issue, this may be a book to keep your eye on. Even the narration occasionally seems to be a part of the mystery as some words and names have been redacted before we read them… but despite the interesting touches Brandon throws in, as an introductory issue, Escape offers little reason to follow it month after month.