Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Atari Force Month: Issue #4 Review
All of the stories in the issue are connected to the concept of family, and the issue itself is titled "Families," so Gerry Conway isn't aiming at subtlety here. The main focus is on Dart returning to New Earth, reuniting with her parents and surrogate brother Tempest. It's nice to see her in a safe place, surrounded by love instead of war, but I will say that I much prefer badass, self-sufficient mercenary Dart to the woman she is at home. Not that there is anything wrong with her, per se, but in the company of her family Dart seems far more reserved and soft-hitting in her personality. She loses her edge a little because she lets her guard down. It is a logical shift in the character, to have her feel and act more at ease at the dinner table than she does in combat. And it's not the kind of change writers always include, so I give Conway credit for really thinking through the difference between Dart at home and Dart in the field. I just happen to like who she is in the field a bit more, personally.
One of the best details of that scene is the dynamic between Li San and Mohandas, Dart's mother and father, respectively. He tries to make polite small talk with his old friend; she very forcefully speaks the truth, that Martin has been a neglectful, absent hermit for years and owes them all an explanation. It helps propel the conversation forward, and puts Martin a bit on the defensive, which in turn causes him to say something that angers his son. To be fair, Tempest was pretty much waiting for an excuse to get pissed. The whole thing is volatile, and Conway is quick to let it blow up and then watch the dust settle.
In between the various scenes of the Champion family drama, Pakrat has another scene with Rident, and Morphea gets full custody of Babe (who is finally named! Yay!). The Pakrat-Rident exchange is terribly anti-climactic when held up against their initial encounter last issue. Instead of a legitimate arrest and chase, Pakrat basically uses legalese to talk Rident out of trying to nab him. It's a jurisdictional thing, which makes sense, but is dull, dull, dull.
At any rate, Morphea reminds the captain what she's capable of, and he agrees to let Babe go. First, Morphea has Babe finish the heavy lifting he was being forced to do, which I find a strange choice, but I guess she just wanted to avoid further argument or something. And it doesn't hurt him, so no harm no foul. As he walks away into freedom, Babe gets to spit his disgust at the captain, which is a satisfying moment. Meanwhile, Morphea finds herself surprised at her maternal nature, since her race does not have a classic parent-child relationship. Her bond with Babe is definitely the most interesting family unit examined in this issue, as well as the newest and, therefore, most fragile. I look forward to watching it grow, because it has the potential to teach both characters a lot about themselves through learning about one another.
I actually like his Rident more, though strangely, his Pakrat is about the same. Somehow, Rident is even more intimidating and stone-faced when Andru draws him. Something about the shading and shape of his face makes him comes across as doubly stern. He also appears a bit more intelligent and competent somehow, which is odd considering he accomplishes less this issue than last.