Writer Matt Kindt continues to make this series feel like Valiant's anti-hero equivalent of the Avengers or the Justice League. While the teams from the Big Two combat global threats, they'll do so with more precaution and a better sense of chemistry between the heroes. Here, this is a team that has only recently formed and, as you'll see, some of them may be more willing to let innocents die for the "greater good."
This chapter's jump to the trio being in the James Bond villain-esque trap felt a bit sudden ("you'll be buried 20 feet underground, and if you try to escape, everyone dies! Mwhaha!"), but swift transition aside, this dilemma gives Kindt a chance to offer a better look at who these characters really are. Sure, we know their physical abilities and what they can bring to a fight, but this shows the developing dynamic between the three and how they're willing to act in a fight. I've often said that Gilad feels a little cast aside compared to the other characters in this book and thankfully, this issue gives him a more significant presence. Livewire isn't playing as big of a role at the moment, although that seems pretty intentional. You can't help but feel like she'll play a very large part in this story arc's future and, to be fair, she received quite a bit of attention in the opening storyline.
Artist CAFU and colorist Brian Reber's pages are consistently strong and immersive. The splash page of the three heroes feels like pure fan service. Throughout the issue, the attention to detail -- both with the characters and environments -- never comes off as rushed and they do a more than solid job conveying all of the powerful emotions in the flashback segment.
It feels a little odd to mock the cliche way bad guys reveal their entire grand plan and then dedicate a large chunk of time to doing exactly just that. I know telling us who Dr. Silk is and what his mission is is a critical thing, but this appeared to soak up a fair amount of time and wasn't too engaging for me. Ultimately, this left the cliffhanger feeling somewhat abrupt and didn't seem as dire as it should.
It's a minor gripe, but I'm having trouble believing that fodder can knock Aric around. Even if he's going non-lethal, he should see be able to swat these characters away with a fair amount of ease, right?
Dr. Silk's plot may not be resonating with me all that much or wind up feeling quite as epic as it should, but despite that, this is still a very enjoyable issue and something any fan of the book will likely appreciate. Not only is it consistently pleasing on the eyes, but Kindt's able to shine a tight spotlight on Ninjak and Aric's morals. They're still a fresh group, so it's great to see them being handled as such. I may not be the biggest fan of the team's latest threat, but I sure am loving the reactions it generates from them.