Old Wounds #4
I don’t want to say too much about Old Wounds #4, written by Russell Lissau and drawn by John Bivens, since it concludes the mystery set up at the beginning of the miniseries. The killer was revealed at the end of issue #3, but this one is the important one, the part that tells us why the murders happened.
In case you don’t want to visit that link to my review of the previous issues, the setup is this: Michael Lane used to be a superhero, until an explosion 30 years ago damaged his leg and ended his hero career. His pain also wrecked his marriage. His ex-wife was the first victim, killed in a bombing. While investigating, Detective Alyssa Hess has taken him into protective custody, but their location has been invaded by the murderer.
Who did it isn’t as important as why. We’ve known all along that it had to be someone from his past, but the actual motive, to understand why someone would hold a grudge that went back that far, is the more significant revelation. It’s a good reminder that sometimes the simplest answer is the accurate one, and that it can be a challenge to write powerful endings.
In an odd but effective choice, most of this issue is an action sequence, as the protagonists struggle to defeat the villain. Many series start with visually expressive images, to catch the reader’s eye and draw them in, but this one started with a gripping premise told mostly through dialogue, leading up to the punch-out. On the one hand, that makes this issue a faster read than some of the others, but it also means the writer and artist have gotten more skilled at working with each other by this point.
There’s something of an unanswered question about what happens to one of the characters (or maybe it’s just my denial of a plot choice I don’t care for). If it is intended the reader should take the negative interpretation, I will be very disappointed to see another sacrifice of that type of character.
You can get Old Wounds #4 from publisher Pop! Goes the Icon or digitally at ComiXology. Or at this point, you may want to consider the collected edition, due out November 18 and available to order at your local comic shop until September 18. It will have 20 pages of bonus material, which includes “a reprinting of detectives Hess and King’s first appearance in Lissau and Bivens’ ‘One of Us’, which previously appeared in the indie anthology series Omega Comics Presents. The paperback will also feature a look into the collaborative process between the creators, as well as a brand-new cover by Bivens.” (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)
I’m parsing Previews and was considering the trade, but I have a problem. It’s a bit awkward: I appreciate that you’re avoiding spoilers, but I’m kinda unsure if you liked the series overall? I mean, for instance:
“It’s a good reminder that sometimes the simplest answer is the accurate one, and that it can be a challenge to write powerful endings” made me wonder whether I should understand it as, “I saw it coming from a mile, and the ending sucked”?
But then, “In an odd but effective choice” seemed to imply that you liked the ending? (Sorry, not trying to put words in your mouth, just to paint a problem that’s my own.)
So I’m wondering if you thought it worth reading? (I guess that’s where a grade can sometimes get useful for some readers, as a “checksum” of sorts.)
Good question. This is one of those cases where getting free review copies can be an issue. I liked reading it, but I didn’t love it, and I probably wouldn’t have picked it up if I’d had to pay for it (just because the “revisit superheroes” genre is played out for me). So would I recommend someone buy it? I’m not sure. It’s well-told, but somewhat lightweight. I’m not sure I’d ever reread it. It would be a good book to add on if you had gotten everything you wanted for the month and had a few bucks left over. How’s that?
How’s that? Bit difficult! Yeah, most “revisiting superheroes” and similar contrivances don’t do much for me either. (Though technically, this one seems more of a pulp vigilante.)
And on seeing their PR about how it’s “showing the harsh consequences of a crime-fighter’s life after he’s hung up his mask”, I was thinking how artificial that sounds since we don’t have such people — making it feel like a solution in search of a problem?
I mean, wouldn’t such examination work better with a story about a retired cop, FBI agent, mercenary, judge, investigative journalist, union leader, whistleblower, even a boxer or WWE actor or luchador — any real person making vengeful enemies along the way? Did you feel this story going beyond made-up vigilantes and reaching into our world?
As an aside, I found only 3 reviewers posting about #4:
* positive at http://kellysmithreviews.blogspot.com/2015/08/comic-book-review-old-wounds-4.html
* mild at http://comicbastards.com/comics/review-old-wounds-4/
* mixed at http://comicsworthreading.com/2015/08/22/old-wounds-4/
And I’m almost picturing who’s doing what to save the day, something you apparently didn’t care for, but the very thing that appealed to KSR’s reviewer Lily Luchesi — I guess it’s a dividing line of sorts?
Also, I’m under my 10-trades-per-order max for now, but if I indulge my Xmas lust for some comic-strip archives, I may be pushing $500, so I should skip it.
But I still dunno. Maybe I’d get it to see what this team is about, because it’s just $13. (And because it’s at Pop Goes The Icon, also home to the pulpish noir SAN HANNIBAL.) Or maybe when relisted? Oy!
The story could have worked with a real-life law-keeper, but then, I never would have tried it, because the “they used to be superheroes” was a hook that worked for me.