Thursday, March 21, 2019

Electric Warriors #5 Review and Spoilers

Firestorm Revealed!

Written by: Steve Orlando
Art by: Travel Foreman, Javi Fernandez, and Richard Friend
Colours by: Hi-Fi
Letters by: Travis Lanham
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Irrespective of the merits of the book itself, Electric Warriors has been a pleasant surprise for me in that it has prompted some thoughtful and enthusiastic comment both here and on other online forums like Twitter and Slack. I know I've joked about the miniscule readership of this series and it is true that the sales for the title are generally poor, but those fans who are reading it appear to be enjoying it precisely because it offers a new and refreshingly unusual take on the DC Universe. And I must admit that, after last issue's strangely languid (and unpleasant) goings-on, I'm beginning to warm to it too. Does that continue this time around? Hmmm…

Well, there's trouble at mill, as they say. Or at least it looks that way. The first two pages are drawn by Javi Fernandez rather than Travel Foreman and I wonder if that's because the original two pages did not do enough to set the table for the rest of the issue. Whatever those original pages conveyed, the ones we currently get constitute an insight into the recently deceased Inceptor's mind (he makes an appearance on the cover, confusingly enough) and the Lord Preceptor's rather odd conversation with his Gil'Dishpan partners and… himself? There are a number of problems/issues here. How is it possible to access a dead creature's memories when the cause of death is an exploded head? The script makes a weak attempt to head (hah!) this off with a reference to "genetic memory", but this reader at least is not satisfied. Then there's the Firestorm talking to himself thing. We've not had any hint at all that this current version of Firestorm is harboring a Martin Stein-like second personality and now we get to hear one side of a somewhat irritable exchange between Firestorm and… someone else. You'll forgive me if I'm a little suspicious.

What we get on that first page is greater insight into the relationship between the 'gilded' who have financed the Great Compromise and the Lord (Firestorm) Preceptor whose idea it is in the first place. That relationship is somewhat strained to say the least, and that strain forces Firestorm to involve himself more directly in events, more of which in a moment.

The action moves back to the shadow-shrouded Park of the Covenant where our (now) four conspirators talk in oddly stilted dialogue and, amidst the odd bit of self-doubt from Ian, essentially affirm the bond between them all. Nice. Serene's "If you would aspire to die a death of intestinal strength… I will aspire beside you" is so gloriously awkward, I'm going to say it's deliberate. Orlando then gives our team a moment of glory, complete with a badass entrance and ingenious use of Ian's sound-based powers. Then things get messy.

Having won over enough of the other Electric Warriors to disrupt the games, Ian and his gang have interfered enough that the Lord Preceptor himself makes an entrance. Cue a, to be fair, pretty engaging fight. Orlando and Foreman give each warrior a chance to shine and, although in retrospect the set-up was extremely obvious, the punchline to Serene's "that is the meaning of strength" gag brought a lump to my throat. How the fight ends is… bizarre. And how the issue ends is, if anything, even more so.

The last few pages contain two big reveals that I don't want to spoil here. (But I almost certainly will on the podcast.) All I will say is that I honestly don't know what to make of the first one (although it does, at least, explain why Firestorm's costume is green) and, while I generally approve of the second, I think Orlando could have handled it better.

The art is, as usual, very good; the fights are dynamic and the character interactions are rendered well. Fernandez' art in the first two pages does not jar with Foreman's and the colouring and lettering work is similarly excellent. This issue has once again demonstrated that Orlando is not afraid to take risks and, although his plotting is not quite as slick as it could be, the vision on display here is genuinely impressive. I suspect I might well miss this series once it ends next month.

Bits and Pieces:

This penultimate issue does exactly what penultimate issues are meant to do – shake up the established status quo pretty fundamentally and lead into a conclusion that will be anything but predictable. Foreman's art continues to impress and, while Orlando could have handled some aspects of the plot a little more deftly, there's a lot of fun to be had here and some well-rounded characters to root for. You could do a lot worse than read Electric Warriors.



  1. I've been away for 35-ish years from comics, so forgive me if I am unaware of Steve Orlando's storytelling tendencies. That said, he has packed a TON into this issue, so much that i think it is crying out for another issue or three. The exposition with "Firestorm" and his funders, the team discussion, the interrupted games and subsequent speechmaking, then the crazy reveal...all could have benefitted from apace to breath. Now, with The Big Fight looming to close it out...and one of the more interesting "How I/we got here" stories that the DC universe has ever heard to be told...there just aren't enough pages to do issue six justice.

    Art-wise, I'm largely in agreement. It did strike me odd that the book got real sloppy for one page (8, I think). Everything has been so crisp, and we were left with a single page where panel boxes had real messy corners. No other pae in the book looked like this. I wonder what was going on. Last minute redraws?

    Another on-point review. Gonna miss reading the pbook...and the review/explanation.

    You need another book. I know that it's not Steve Orlando, but permit me to put a plug in for High Level. Another fun, futuristic book with familiar plot devices (so far) and impressive world-building.

    1. If you can't tell, I typed that comment on my phone with my phat phingers. Apologies!

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