Saturday, October 16, 2004

Challengers of the Unknown #4 (of 6)

writer: Howard Chaykin
artist: Howard Chaykin
published by DC Comics

Howard Chaykin is exactly what Frank Miller should have become. A smart, incisive writer who's just as comfy penning mainstream books as he is edgy creator owned faire. Like Miller, Chaykin has a flair for filling the page with text and images designed to bombard you with the world he's created. Like Miller, Chaykin works in other media (as a TV writer, he's worked on The Flash, Viper, Earth: Final Conflict and Mutant X. Chaykin's dipped into the well of noir (his amazing collaboration on The Shadow with Bill Sienkiewicz orThe Black Kiss), history (American Century) and has created dystopian masterpieces like American Flagg and (hopefully) the alternate universe revamp of Challengers of the Unknown.
Where did Miller go wrong? I think he just started believing the hype. He started doing comics for something other than the love of the medium, though he has his pet projects that prove he's not a lost cause (Sin City, 300, Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Roboy. But, like Ricky Ricardo would say...Frankie, you got some 'splainin' to do about that DK2 crap! (end rant)
I've never read the original comics, so I honestly don't give a rat's patootie about how it's changed or how he's raped the keister of DC's superscience investigative team. I just care that Chaykin tells a good yarn.
And dammit, he does. Finally things are starting to come into place. We learn that our intrepid heroes are actually highly trained sleeper agents and assassins who were programmed to return periodically to their organization for additional programming/brainwashing. They worked for the Hegemony, a supersecret cabal that controls things (Sorry kids, it ain't the Jews. It's WASP moneymen who control things in Chaykin's world...and ours. [pbbbbbt!]).
Things are coming to a head and with two issues to go in the series, we know it's gonna get worse. Much worse. The body count's piling up and the Challengers find out things about themselves that they never even dreamed. Most importantly, though. They find out they are simply mortal...and their enemies play for keeps.

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