Detective Riley is headed home from his meeting with the Protectors when a wave of squad cars fly by him. Tripping all his investigative warning bells, he follows them to find the coroner’s office and all the evidence in his case along with it, going up in flames. Also, between a half-familiar face on the way to the scene and a feeling of being watched once he gets there, this case just keeps getting stranger. The next morning in his captain’s office he receives even more bad news in the death of the coroner himself, whose body was found in the wreckage. He’s also informed that as much as he believes the arson is connected to the Huntsman’s death, he won’t be allowed to work the case since it’s being treated as an unrelated incident until solid evidence connecting the two can be found.
With all avenues seeming to dead-end and Tomas also not showing up for work, Riley is just about ready to give up when he discovers a note from a new friend on his desk. Rushing down to the pier, he’s just in time to meet his new contact, The Angel. She informs him that her fellows in the Protectors have not taken a shine to him which is no surprise but does seem to genuinely want to help. After some back and forth between she and Riley, he takes her up on her offer to help and she whisks him away to the last place he thought they might be headed, the Huntsman’s home. No high-rise penthouse or mega mansion but a blimp circling the city, as she puts it “low enough to stay out of air traffic but high enough for the desired effect” of the Protectors always seeming to come down from on high like Gods coming down from Olympus.
With this being issue six, the series is now officially half over. With two murders that the police know of that at first seemed unrelated but were about to be linked before the death of the coroner and little to no help from the powers that be, it’s anyones guess what’s really going on. Is The Angel really the benevolent informant she makes out to be or does she have an ulterior motive? Just who is killing people and covering their tracks? Hopefully all these questions and more will be answered in the coming months. Easily blending the world-weary attitude of the veteran detective with sporadic moments of biting sarcasm and hilarious injections of quick-witted humor, Protectors, Inc is the kind of story that only Straczynski could bring to us. The entire conversation between Riley and The Angel in this issue is a perfect illustration of just that. If all comics were this well-written I’d never get out of the house.
When last we left our favorite ragtag crew, an old but very unwelcome face had just reappeared in the personage of Jubal Early. Once again working with if not for the Alliance, he had snuck on-board the Serenity after destroying Bea’s ship along with her entire crew from the New Resistance and found River in her self-induced coma. Well, as is so often the case, things have to get worse before they can get better and in the spirit of that Jubal stalks the ship and quickly has the entire crew either locked down or incapacitated. Almost the entire crew at least, as he is harshly reminded of who’s missing from his little party when Kaylee makes her presence known with a well-timed swing of a wrench from the engine room.
With Jubal on ice for now, the crew begin to regroup and find out what, if anything, River was able to remember in her vision quest/memory retrieval therapy. As luck would have it she is able to recall that she was not alone at the Alliance facility that once held her and a rough plan begins to take shape for Zoe’s rescue involving first springing River’s former compatriots to aid in their mission since the only thing more dangerous than River is many Rivers. As long as she’s on her game, that is, as Jayne reminds everyone that when she’s not the only thing she’s good for is “entering a haiku contest.” Meanwhile, Zoe finds herself transferred, as promised, to an unnamed prison colony who knows where from which her new cellmate assures her no one gets out. Back on Serenity Mal and Inara come to an agreement regarding necessary manpower to free the children which leads to Mal seeking out the unlikeliest of allies.
I for one can’t even tell you just how much I’m enjoying Leaves on the Wind. With so many familiar and polarizing figures making appearances with each new issue it really feels like Whedon is pulling out all the fan service stops and doing his best to please Browncoat nation. I know I had a serious fanboy moment when I got to the last page and thought to myself “this is going to get all kinds of awesome.” With the development concerning who Mal has gone to for aid, anything could and most likely will happen from here and the possibilities are truly endless. For those of you out there still jonesing for more Firefly, this is the story for you.
The Eternal Emperor’s granddaughter Caroline is dying from radiation poisoning after being exposed to fallout from the destruction of the war machine that wiped out their village. She and Gilad journeyed far away and finally found the medication they were searching for but only enough for an initial dose. The rest, unfortunately, is in the hands of Gilad’s oldest and most deadly foes, the death cult of Nergal. What seem like insurmountable odds at first turn out to be less so when King Samuel unveils a cache of old world firearms that level the playing field for their forces. Before they can undertake this mission though, to assuage his own conscience if nothing else, Gilad first tries to impart on Caroline the very real consequences of what they propose to do.
With her approval, they set out with a large force of men and all the mechanized weaponry left and trek to the lab where the medication is synthesized and stockpiled. Once again at the head of an army, the immortal Fist and Steel finds himself sending people to their deaths in order to combat death itself in the worshippers of Nergal. What at first seems an easy thing for him to do, Gilad knowingly sacrifices men and equipment to draw off enemy forces but as he does so one can tell that even after all these millennia, the burden still weighs heavy on his soul. Under his seasoned eye the battle is won but just when celebration seems in order, Gilad keeps a promise to himself and once again removes the tools of wholesale slaughter from the Earth in hopes of keeping the people safe. With their journey over and their goals accomplished, Gilad and Caroline return to their village and the people they left behind. However, despite the seemingly happy ending, old ghosts return to torment the Eternal Warrior and remind him that his sacred duty will never be done and that a life of true peace may never be his to know.
Greg Pak may have needed thousands of years to do it, but he spent them wisely telling what could be considered the story at the very core of the Eternal Warrior’s being. Whether by order of the Gods or his own conscience, be it now or 2 millennia from now, Gilad Anni-Padda cannot escape his destiny, he will always have to defend the Earth because as long as there are people on it, they will always seek to destroy it regardless of if they intend to or not and because of that, he will never be able to stop fighting. And, as it turns out, many of the harshest and most biting lessons he has had to learn came at the hands of those he loved the most, leaving no shelter or escape for this tortured soul. Between Pak’s story and narration and Robert Gill’s poignant visuals, you can’t help but to despair for Gilad as the realization comes crashing down on him in the finale and brings the second arc to a brilliant close. Books like this are why the new Valiant is surging to the forefront of modern comics and giving the old guard a run for their money with excellent storytelling by some of today’s finest talent.
That’s right. The Ultimate Marvel-Now started this month, in a universe nearly destroy by two incarnations of Galactus. With Captain America dead, what heroes will rise to the challenge and defend the Ultimate Universe? Well, let’s start with writer Joshua Hale Fialkov‘s vision of an Ultimate Future Foundation: Sue Storm, Iron Man, The Falcon, Danny Ketch( who is now Machine Man after his death), and Director of the Future Foundation, Phil Coulson. It’s a wild and eclectic array of some of the surviving heroes of the Ultimate Universe, and it certainly packs the punch of intrigue after only one issue, when a long thought dead villain arises… and helps save the FF and planet again?
(Spoilers ahead) In the wake of the devastation caused by Galactus, the Ultimate Universe continues to suffer the effects of dimensional rifts due to the fracturing of the time stream, causing reality and creation to crack. With Tony Stark‘s monetary backing, the Future Foundation is there to enlist the help of the worlds smartest minds to combat this threat and save the universe. With such a right opening up right in New Jersey at the site of the Galactus event, the Future Foundations heads in to investigate. The parallel dimension has altered the DNA of ordinary citizens, creating giant monsters. Just when all hope seems lost as the Falcon, Iron Man, and Sue Storm battle these genetic anomalies, Coulson and Machine Man send in what could be a last resort, a dangerous prisoner, mind you, to help end the threat of the rift. Dr. Doom has returned to the Ultimate Universe, and promises to be a key hidden asset… if the future foundation can actually trust him and his motive.
Joshua Hale Fialkov promises, and I quote “things coming up, things that I never thought I’d be allowed to do. Abuse and adventure and sheer and utter madness ahead…” I can definitely see these words echoing true in just the first issue, with such a big return in Dr. Doom. The exotic mix of characters that parallels the main Marvel Universe’s Future Foundation book can definitely be felt in the Ultimate FF. And while Fialkov definitely seems to be in the right creative frame of mind to launch this new incarnation of a team in the Ultimate Universe, his efforts come to fruition thanks to art and color by the team of Mario Guevara, Tom Grummett, and Rachelle Rosenberg, along with inker Juan Vlasco. They have definitely nailed down some great new costume designs, and have a distinct technological look that the book is resplendent with. I was unsure at first, saying “great, another relaunch of Ultimate Marvel.” This however has gotten me excited to see what’s next for the Ultimate Future Foundation, and it definitely looks like a cornerstone piece in the brickwork of Ultimate Marvel-Now. I highly recommend Ultimate FF, even if you were not around for Cataclysm, Hunger, or anything that came before. It’s definitely a cool, fresh look with an eclectic mix of characters that promises big things to come.