Monday, June 3, 2013
Atari Force Month: Issue #2 Review
Atari Force #2 opens in much the same way the first issue did, with Dart and Blackjak in the heat of battle. From there, the issue continues to rehash information and ideas that were established in the debut, making this chapter feel like a weaker second half to the first one. It's not that there isn't any advancement of plot or character whatsoever, but the forward movement that does take place is so slight that it hardly maters. More than anything, this is round two of the many character introductions that have already taken place. Not enough changes and almost nothing new is developed. It's a frustratingly stagnant issue.
Aside from furthering the reader's understanding of Tempest's powers, though, the break-up with Melissa doesn't seem like too big a deal. She was such a non-entity in the debut, and in this issue her only role is to turn Tempest away as a means of setting up her father's entrance. I don't feel any of the pain Tempest apparently does, because I am not at all invested in his romantic relationship at this point. I'm barely invested in him yet. I'm curious about his talents, sure, but my emotional attachment to any of these characters is still relatively thin only two issues deep. And while I appreciate the chance to see behind the curtain of him moving through the Multiverse, ultimately even this is more of a retread than it is new material. Our understanding of what he can do may be widened, but it's not exactly brand new information. And a girl I don't know dumping him and for reasons I don't fully grasp does not make for an especially sturdy plot hook.
That covers most of what goes on in this issue. There are a few pages devoted to Morphea meeting with Martin Champion, and though that conversation does provide some new info, it's exceedingly dry (the conversation, not the info). Where Conway was able to more fluidly incorporate exposition into his dialogue in issue #1, the chat between Morphea and Champion is more forced and stilted. It sets up Champion's intense paranoia about as clearly as you could ever want, but it would've been nice to see that done in a subtler way than to have him explain his entire belief system to a stranger. And Morphea, as an empath, is able to read his internal feelings and figure out the source of his irrational fears and rage, but, again, she does it too overtly. A bit more nuance, or just giving the reader enough credit to figure out what makes Champion tick on our own, could've improved that scene tremendously.
The art takes a small dip, too. Not so much José Luis García-López's pencils or their accompanying inks by Ricardo Villagrán, which continue to astound in their level of detail and expression. And as I said, the designs for the few new characters are great. Beyond the aforementioned bad guys, there is a band of rebel soldiers who fight alongside Dart and Blackjak, and each of them has a unique look as well. The constant creation of new beings is still this series' most enjoyable, impressive feature.
And then, in the backmatter, we have some "Fact Files," essentially just character profiles that, once again, contain zero new information. Well, that's not true, but it's either stuff we already know of stuff we'll never, ever need to know in a million years. Just a final misstep, one more reason that my reaction to this issue is, "Enough fucking character set-up, already!" They've been introduced and then introduced again. Time to move on. Time to really do something.