Publisher Image Comics
Writer Robert Kirkman
Pencils Ryan Ottley
Inks Cliff Rathburn
Colors FCO Plascencia
Wow, what an incredible frelling issue. I have to say when it comes to his three main books Kirkman really knows how to keep it interesting. He promised a while ago that he would keep this book fresh and exciting and the Conquest story line has done just that.
It was one of the quickest reads I have had of a comic and yet it was a very satisfying and enjoyable book, regardless of the tons of gore and blood. I’ve had issues with the level of violence in certain comics, but have always said that when presented in the right fashion and makes sense within the context of the story I have no issue with it. Still I thought we came very close to crossing the gore line this issue, but it never went over it because it made sense within the context of the story. I was happy to read in the letters pages that Kirkman also felt this was as far as he could go with the gore in this book and stated that it is never gore and blood for the sake of the violence it is just the violence will be graphic at times. In an odd way it makes the book more realistic as people with these power levels would generate some serious damage to each other.
I was wondering how Mark would be able to beat Conquest and was worried that the adrenaline rush over his anger of Eve’s death would all of a sudden help him find a new level of strength. While this can happen in real life, Conquest was shown as too powerful in his own right for this to be the answer. The answer was excellent. It took a few things for Mark to be able to defeat and kill Conquest (I assume he is dead as he was beaten to a pulp, literally). First, Mark fought dirty, which when you are in a fight for your life there is no such thing, but Mark fought no holds barred and anything goes. This surprised Conquest and allowed Mark to hurt him. Second Eve is not dead. She somehow regenerated herself and fired a blast at Conquest that burnt off most of his skin which took him down another notch. Finally once Mark got him down he never stopped and beat him to death by head butting Conquest (why this only smashing the other guy’s skull and not yours is confusing, but hey it is a comic book). This was just an awesome battle and a fantastic ending with a great surprise thrown in.
I loved that we have heard nothing but the fact that Eve was going to die and last issue she looked deader then a doornail. This issue she is alive and naked at the end of the story. Of course the funeral for the fallen cover for next issue’s cover is a little confusing, but I loved the twist ending here. Kirkman continues to build up our expectations and then zigs when we are set up for a zag. What makes it work is it still makes sense given the characters and context of the story.
Ryan Ottley on pencils, Cliff Rathburn on Inks and FCO Plascencia on colors have been hitting home run after home run on this book. The first page and then the follow up double page spread in this issue lets you know what type of battle this is going to be. While Kirkman gets all the credit in the world for the story, these guys are delivering on the actual comic. So many artists never get to actually show the fight scene anymore and this book was a fight almost from cover to cover and it was great art work. FCO must have run out of red at times, but it was beautiful to behold. At this point Ottley is showing how much he continues to grow as an artist and has gone from being a decent artist to a good artist to a very good artist and maybe going to take that next step up soon.
Overall Grade A – What a great battle issue and Atom Eve is alive, awesome.