Friday, January 9, 2015

Terminal Hero #5 Review

I like Mia and Minesh. They have so much more personality than Rory; they're funnier and more perceptive and smarter and faster-acting. Rory, who has never been my favorite character, really starts to look boring when he shares the stage with Minesh and Mia. At the end of the issue, they ask him to join them, and I find myself wanting him to do it, even though that's basically like wanting Luke to embrace the Dark Side. Mia and Minesh are also visually more interesting. He has sharp, almost aggressive features that are attractive up close, and she exudes a weird kind of desperate confidence. She's also pale and red-headed while he's a tan brunette, so they have a nice, simple contrast as a duo. They're a great pair with a natural chemistry, and I like them so much better than the protagonist.
     The Tumor Kid, on the other hand, I'm sort of getting sick of. For one thing...I could've sworn he explained himself as Rory's tumor personified when he was introduced, but in this issue he seems to be the concept of all cancer personified, since he demands Rory kill some stranger who had a miraculous, inexplicable recovery from pancreatic cancer. Tumor Kid is angry that someone escaped him with no clear reason, and while it is quirkily compelling to think that cancer is bothered by its survivors, it's also kind of gross to introduce a random character as someone who recently beat cancer and then have him killed off because cancer somehow takes a human form. Speaking of gross, Tumor Kid is horrible to look at, and I know that's exactly what Piotr Kowalski is shooting for, so it's a successful character design, but it still bums me out.
     My biggest problem with this issue comes from, surprise surprise, it's pacing. Or, rather, the series' pacing, and the way it detracts from some of the emotional stakes. Both Tumor Kid and Agent Davenport threaten to hurt Rory's family, a.k.a. the family of Chris Walker, the man Rory whose life Rory stole after killing him (and a bunch of other people) in an explosion. The idea of the family being in danger seems to be enough to get Rory to do or at least seriously consider things he's not morally comfortable with, but I find that hard to buy or get into because as a reader, there hasn't been nearly enough for me to form any connection of my own with the Walkers. They're two cipher children characters and a woman who we know is cool, talented, and kind, but we've been given no reason to love yet. So while Rory acts as if he loves Chris' family as his own, I find that kind of hard to believe; it comes across as self-delusion on Rory's part because I have never seen or felt any of the love he supposedly has for them. The scene where he sends a projection to check in on his daughter was the most forced, uncomfortable moment in this book yet, and also maybe the most inappropriate use of Rory's powers so far.
     Similarly, I am pretty sick of Rory pining over Emma, and the scene where he spies on her and inadvertently attacks and maybe even kills her new boyfriend bugged me and felt gratuitous. Why is he so hung up on this woman? As with the family, I have not seen any clear reason to go nuts over Emma yet, simply because she hasn't been present enough for me to form any strong opinion. I guess Rory keeps coming back to her because she was the last person he was with before he got his powers, but...that's a flimsy reason for the obsessiveness he displays.
     Other than Rory's unconvincing relationships, Peter Milligan's writing was on point this month, if only because Mia and Minesh got to be on so many pages. That really is the main thing I enjoyed about Terminal Hero #5, getting to see more of those two characters, and considering they and Rory are face-to-face in the closing scene, I'm banking on getting a good deal more of them next month, and hopefully for many months after.
     Here's one last thing: I have not, in any of the four previous reviews, mentioned letterer Simon Bowland at all. I didn't even tag him in those posts originally (though for consistency's sake he is tagged in all of them now). The lettering isn't flashy or experimental at all, but it's reliable stuff. It's never in the way, it's easy to follow, there are expressive flourishes when needed but they're never excessive, and, in this issue at least, I didn't notice any errors. So, apologies for the oversight in credit-giving, but please know that Bowland's work is solid and appreciated.
     (I have also never mentioned cover artist Jae Lee, but that was more intentional, because I am not a big fan of the covers. They're way too similar to each other, and none are particularly remarkable or reflective of either the content or tone of the comic. I'm going to go ahead and leave Lee untagged in all these reviews, because I like him a lot as an artist, but this series is the least I've ever enjoyed his work.)

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