Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Activity #3

Written by Nathan Edmondson
Art by Mitch Gerads

Nathan Edmondson's new monthly series, The Activity, is a strange beast.  It's a military special ops comic, about a Direct Action group, and as I've said before, it brings to mind some of the best of Greg Rucka's Queen and Country series, and the television show The Unit. What is strange about this comic is that Edmondson has been slow to develop the characters beyond showing them as functions of their positions on the team.  Another book this is reminiscent of is Andy Diggle's The Losers, but again, that comic was full of strong character work. 

This issue feels like it is trying to correct this problem, but it's done in a manner that is perhaps not all that effective, while still making an interesting read.  As the comic opens, the team is being extracted from a mission in Afghanistan which has clearly gone badly.  While flying in a military transport back to the United States, the team begins to second guess their decisions, and the decisions of each other, leading to conflict, catharsis, and the sharing of military stories.  All of these are good things, but I leave the comic no clearer as to who each of these people really are.

As I was reading the book, I was struck with the thought that Edmondson is going to need to start to develop a longer narrative here.  Having each issue spotlight a particular mission is, while within the nature of a team like this, not going to create a sustained sense of development in the series.  I'm not suggesting they need some shadowy organization to go after month after month (á la Cobra or Al Qaeda), but a sense of progression is needed.  The end of this issue does lead into the next, which is a good sign, as is the suggestion that this team may be reaching the end of their usefulness.

It also needs to be said that Mitch Gerads's art is improving quite a bit from month to month.  At first, he seemed like a decent if somewhat generic indie artist; now I'm starting to see the development of a more individualistic style, and I like it.

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