The cover: Lieutenant Detective John Riley is not where he wants to be: high atop a building on a clear night next to the Patriot. Unfortunately, this is the hero, the Protector, that he thinks is responsible for murdering another hero. This is the first hero that ever appeared on Earth and the one that ushered in all to follow him. He’s been missing for over 50 years, and now he’s grabbed Riley and wants to talk. This could be very deadly. Artist Gordon Purcell and colorist Michael Atiyeh created this cover which promises so much! I like how the Patriot’s eyes can’t be seen and the shading on Riley’s face looks great. Overall grade: A
The story: This book opens right with the cover image: Riley on a building with the Patriot. The hero has brought the detective there to speak with him alone and tell him he’s not murderer. This doesn’t sound true to John, so the Patriot gives me a lot of information, including a question to ask Angel. He believes all the Protectors to be corrupt, but if Angel answers John honestly, he believes there could be hope for some of his super powered peers. His discussion then moves to what’s going on with Angel and there is a lot stated and much that is hinted at. Among what’s said are two supers looking likely as the killer. Not helping is what Angel does to one of them in front of the group. She eventually meets up with John who tells her of his meeting with the Patriot, and then he asks her the question. Surprisingly, she answers and it turns the world of heroics on its end. After this revelation they separate and another hero, seen briefly in an earlier issue, does something to make him a suspect. There’s a surprising battle in this issue and a cliffhanger than will leave readers hanging in suspense. I don’t see how J. Michael Straczynski can wrap everything up next month, but he is JMS, and he’s yet to disappoint with this series. I have a suspicion who the killer is, but after the crime is solved, what’s to happen to John with the information he knows? I’ll have to let it simmer for 30 days! Overall grade: A
The art: Gordon Purcell is the penciller of this book, with Andrew Pepoy inking him, except for the final five pages where Purcell inks himself. I love the eternal glow around all the Protectors, it makes them seem like gods…but the story tells otherwise this month. Pages 5 – 7 is a great sequence set in the clouds, with Angel speaking with some of her so-called friends. I love when scenes like this occur in comics, beyond the eyes and ears of the common man, and Purcell works the point of view on these pages well. I really like how each super gets a close-up to give the reader an opportunity to look into the character’s soul to see if they could commit such a crime. Pepoy’s inks soften up Purcell’s lines a bit, and this is evident in the third panel on Page 6–this character is gorgeous. The origin story is only three pages long, but it gives readers a quick summary with perfectly drawn illustrations to get the secret told. I also liked the telephone conversation that happens on 13; there’s a lot for Purcell and Pepoy to cover, with the panels on right moving around the most. They carry this off like a storyboard for a film production. The fight that begins on 18 is great, and I loved the Patriot, looking every bit the hero on that page, even when down. The look on John’s face in the final panel of the book was exactly how I pictured him to be looking and I’m glad Purcell did a close-up to show his fear. I love this art team. Overall grade: A
The colors: This story is out of the shadows with the Patriot and Angel spilling the beans, so Michael Atiyeh gets to do some wonderfully bright work on this issue. The blue sky behind the Patriot on the opening four pages made him seem more heroic and the white radiance he emanates only increased that thought. Pages 5 – 7 have a stunning rose colored cloud backdrop that made the gathering of heroes stand out all the more. Sound effects are brightly colored to make them louder in the panels and there are several of those in this book. Atiyeh is doing great work here. Overall grade: A
The letters: Dialogue, sounds, and a telephone conversation comprise Troy Peteri’s work on this issue. He has a lot, and I can’t stress that enough, a lot of work to do with all the secrets that are revealed in this issue, but he’s able to put them on the page without covering any of the visuals. That’s a talent, and Peteri obviously has some solid skills. Overall grade: A
The final line: I don’t see how this can end next month. This could go on for much longer, now that readers know what it takes to be a hero. I’m on pins and needles to see who the killer is and what their motive was. Bring it on, Joe’s Comics! I want to know! And it had better end with the rain beginning to fall. Overall grade: A
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.