Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The American Way: Those Above and Those Below #6 Review and **SPOILERS**

Triple Crosser

Written by: John Ridley
Art by: Georges Jeanty, John Livesay, Nick Filardi, and Travis Lanham
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: February 21, 2018


Well, we finally made it. After four extremely wordy issues and one surprisingly good issue last month, it's the end of John Ridley's follow-up American Way series. Despite being positive about the last issue, I haven't enjoyed this series as a whole up to this point. The characters haven't been likable, there is way too much heavy-handed dialogue, and the story has barely moved forward. That being said, I am holding out hope for a strong ending based solely on the fifth issue. So let's jump in and see if John Ridley can ride that momentum and carry it through to the end of the series.

Explain It!

As this series is wont to do, this issue picks up where the left one left off. Hollis has gathered a group of people to hunt down Samuel, the Human Torch amalgam that interrupted Missy's speech a couple of issues back. An army is closing in on Samuel, who flames up a hand and prepares to fight. Through this, we see a talk between Nikki Lau and Agent Ersine Wells. Wells is asking Nikki if she believes people should be held accountable for their actions. She agrees that they should, but the two are arguing over whether they should let Amber turn herself in or arrest her outright. Nikki, who has been infiltrating Amber's group, seems to have grown somewhat fond of Amber, but Wells knows that if they arrest Amber with force then the opinions of the public will swing in their favor.

Samuel is engaged in a full-on, one vs. an army battle. He's holding his own but does get hit in the hip with a bullet. The National Guard does eventually get him pinned down around Ashland and calls Hollis for backup. He wants to have Samuel killed on the spot, but Missy disagrees, which shocks both Hollis and me. Being close to death herself, she doesn't want Samuel killed for being confused and lashing out against all of the hatred. Hollis sends in the backup to kill him anyway, so Missy calls Jason to go help Samuel.

These soldiers aren't messing around, as they send two tanks after Samuel. Luckily, Jason shows up just in time to deflect one of the missiles heading for Samuel. Jason tells Samuel to run and starts kicking some soldier ass. After those first four dialogue-heavy issues, I appreciate letting Georges Jeanty's art tell some of the story as Jason fights. The art is always good, but this four-page sequence is some of the best of the entire series and I'm glad it wasn't obscured by word balloons.

Nikki takes the radio Wells gave her and goes to meet up with Amber before her big "one more action." Amber is scared to go through with it, but Nikki convinces her to relax and gives her some of the drugs that she's so fond of. When she's sure that Amber is out, Nikki presses the button on the radio to call in Wells. Meanwhile, Jason has dispatched the National Guard and caught up with Samuel. Samuel turns to attack Jason, but Jason convinces him to cut it out and talk to him. Jason tells Samuel that just because he's angry at the people that killed his brother and racist people in general, that doesn't give him the right to kill. He offers Samuel an ultimatum: go away for awhile and when he comes back, either come back ready to use his powers for good so Jason can help, or come back on the same path he's on so Jason can hunt him down and stop him.

When Amber comes out of her trip, Nikki is there waiting for her. Nikki suddenly realizes that she made a mistake, and tells Amber that the feds are coming. Amber tells Nikki to save the others, so she runs out to get them out of there. Ersine Wells and the agents bust in the door and, even though Amber tries to surrender, they open fire and riddle her with bullet holes. They start going through the house and come upon Nikki. Nikki tries to tell them that she's with them, but they start firing at her too. She holds up her hands and a yellow shield appears in front of her. This power hasn't been shown much, but Amber was shown to have Yellow Lantern-esque construct powers early on in the series. The powers seem to have been passed onto Nikki when they shared a needle, so now Nikki uses those powers to go after Wells. She holds Wells up against the wall and uses these newfound powers that are apparently easy to master to cut off his hand before going to find Amber's body.

Now it's time to wrap things up. Jason meets with Missy and she tells him that she really doesn't have very much time left. She tells him that since he's the only one left, it's up to him to reach out to the new, younger supers and help them become better than the Civil Defense Corps was back in the day. Jason flies off to continue his superheroics and comes up on two punk kids. The kids are talking about Missy being a race traitor while they take a piss on a wall with her posters on it. Jason flies up and simply tells them, "This doesn't end well for you," and that's where this issue, and this series, ends.

John Ridley and Georges Jeanty surprised me with their final two issues and wrapped up a lot of it without making it feel TOO forced. Nikki mastering her new powers instantly threw me off, but the rest of this issue was actually quite good. I was very down on the series after four issues, but these last two have saved it for me. While I'm not dying for another mini-series, they left it open for more stories to be told should they want to come back to it down the road.

Bits and Pieces:

A while from now, I'm not sure if I'll look back on this series with a positive feeling, but it definitely won't be as negative as it would've been earlier on in the series. The last two issues tied things together and did it in a way that was actually exciting and enjoyable to read. The art has been good all the way through, and I'm glad that the writing caught up to the art towards the end of this mini. This is one that feels like it will read much better in trade.

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