Wunderlich: Last week’s Archer and Armstrong failed to thrill me, but I still had high hopes for this final chapter of “Mission: Improbable”. Our muscular drunkard Armstrong was on the move to rescue his little (though incredibly talented and powerful) buddy Archer from the evil clutches of Project Rising Spirit. And the only thing that stood in his way? Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps! It’s got potential, no?
With reliable writers Christos Gage and Joshua Dysart on board, of course this story had potential! Unfortunately, I found myself underwhelmed at the climax of this arc, though it did provide a few interesting twists and turns.
While Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps’ appearance in A&A left me blasé, Gage and Dysart’s handling of the character convinces me there’s more to them. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m now invested in this cast, but they’re more compelling than they were last week. Visiting characters Archer and Armstrong get great treatment as well. Dialogue flows well throughout and characters each have their own voice, advancing the plot at a comfortable pace. I finally feel like the H.A.R.D. Corps have personality, I just wish Bloodshot didn’t sport so many all too typical anti-hero clichés.
Being the final issue of “Mission: Improbable”, we might expect a great climax—a culmination of the excitement we’re treated to over these four issues of cross-over. Without spoiling anything, I can safely say that creativity was left at the door when considering the final showdown. The result of said showdown is clever and the plot wraps up quite nicely, but the peak of excitement is… less than exciting. I assumed that would be a resolution smarter than “break through the walls and point guns at people”.
The real trouble here is the art. I honestly can’t tell you where Tom Raney ends and the others take over, but the occasionally strange anatomy, inconsistent inking and lack of interesting backgrounds make this a bizarre trip. At the best of times it has a very Phillip Bond feel to it, with slightly larger heads and rounder features. At the worst of times those heads don’t seem to fit on their bodies, and those bodies just don’t seem right. There are a few standout panels (Archer’s eyes can truly pierce) but overall the experience is uneven.
I don’t know if I’m sold on Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps. “Mission: Improbable” provided a relatively entertaining story while logically incorporating Archer and Armstrong and proving that the Valiant universe is tightly knit. It’s nice to see the connections, but I’m glad these titles are free to run on their own once more.
Elkin: I share your critique, Wunderlich. All in all, this ending left me a bit underwhelmed, though, like you, I'm interested to see where the series goes from here.
For some reason I kept thinking that this issue was a series of endings -- on four separate occasions I was surprised there were still pages left. I guess it is testament to the talents of Gage and Dysart that I didn't find it exasperating.
One final point I would like to make is how creepy I found the “Epilogue” of this book. Given the setting and the cross-armed reflection of Bloodshot in the mirror, you probably can guess at my unease. This may be a bold new direction for the series, but if it is, then I'm not so sure it's a direction I'm anticipating taking.