Friday, October 4, 2013

Review: Argo 5

First, my apologies for not putting out these reviews at a much faster clip.  Damn adult responsibilities keep cropping up!  And (sigh) being a responsible adult means taking care of them!  Don't worry, it's not related to health issues or to financial problems (I could use more money, sure - but it's not money problems I'm dealing with right now), it's just stuff that takes up more of my time than I'd like.  Anyway, I think I'm finally at a lull where I can knock out some reviews.  My thanks to you all for your patience!  Onwards to the review!


Today's review is of Argo 5 by Dan Sehn!  With a name that has "5" in it, then the number of members must be five, right?  You'd be correct!  The roster of Argo 5 is thus:

* Gladiatra, the team leader, who can fly and has super strength, and even has laser vision.

* Shazrath , the Maltese god of strength, the upper level of which is not known, but he’s pretty freakin’ strong.  Hulk-level strong?  Maybe (that would make a good fight, I think).  

* Blue Dynamo, aka "the human star".  He can fly and project solar energy, mainly in the form of solar blasts to shoot enemies with.

* Kasira, who is a half-genie.  Mostly, her abilities are of a magical nature, although she can’t conjure things out of thin air like a full-blooded genie.  Still, she’s a pretty formidable opponent.

* Chain Reaction, a kung-fu martial artist who is able to cause a chain reaction of events to occur in his favor.  This sounds almost like a probability-altering power a la Scarlet Witch from Marvel Comics.  If it's not that, then it might be that he's simply that skilled in physics that's he's able to do the math in his head to determine how to punch or kick his opponent in such a way that the opponent's momentum will carry him to hit something else, and thus causing other things to happen. 

For this review, I read Argo 5 #0, 1, and 2.  I have not read beyond that, nor have I read any of the other related titles by Dan Sehn, so what I’m reviewing is based only on those first three issues.  And before I continue, time for the oh-so-necessary

If you have not read Argo 5 #0, 1, and 2, and don’t want what’s in it spoiled for you, then STOP READING NOW!!  You have been warned!

Stories about a team of superheroes have their benefits and drawbacks.  The benefit is the increased possibility of the different types of stories that can be made based on the differing personalities. The drawback is that, depending on the number or on the personality types, you can have too many to keep track of, or the personalities of each hero either does not provide enough of a contrast to create stories, or that they are TOO different, and are always fighting.  Thus, writing for a team of heroes is a balancing act.

Usually, these kinds of stories work best when the number is low, like around 3 to 5 members, because that allows enough characters to develop storylines about how well they get along (or don’t get along) with each other.  Once you get into “Justice League” numbers, then it becomes difficult to balance the different number of characters and yet still give each character enough “face” time to develop a good story.  Argo 5 seems to have a good enough balance of characters to develop stories around their work and personal relationships with each other, while giving enough “face” time to each hero.

Argo 5 starts out a bit slow for my taste in #0 and 1, but improved in #2 to the point that I began to see potential storylines for future issues.  What I see a need for here is more backstory for each character, so as to develop their individual personalities more.  That way, their actions and reactions to each other while they are teamed up will be logical and make more sense, instead of feeling like their individual personalities and their relationships with each other are contrived.  

For example, we know Chain Reaction can be something of a jerk when it comes to women, but how did he become this jerk?  How did he develop these troubling attitudes towards women?  He’s something of a charmer it seems, but he seems to relate to women only in a physical and superficial way.  All flesh and lust, and no depth of commitment.

Meanwhile, poor Blue Dynamo would love nothing more than the love of a good woman, but has the worst luck with them. In a sense, he’s almost as superficial as Chain, but in a different way.  While Chain views women by their sexual attractiveness, Blue seems to have a more romantic view of women, which can sometimes be almost as unrealistic as viewing women only for their proverbial “T and A”.  

If I were to have a heart-to-heart talk with Blue, I would tell him not to lower his standards so much, but simply to adjust them so that women are more “real”.  No woman can live up to a romanticized ideal that a poor lovesick nerd like Blue seems to hold.  But who could Blue turn to on his team that might help him through this?  Chain?  LOL  Seriously, that would be a good question for the writers to answer about Blue’s relationships with women (Reminder: I have not read Argo 5 beyond #2, so these things I bring up may have already been addressed in the later issues).  Shazrath is a god used to a whole different type of woman.  Gladiatra and Kasira could help to some degree, but would it be a good idea for them to be so personally involved with someone who is basically a coworker?

My job as a reviewer is not to suggest what the writers should do, but simply to point out what I see, and what I’d like to see.  So I’m not going to suggest to the writers on how Blue will work out his romantic troubles, or to what level the women on Argo 5 go to help him – if they even want to help him.  That’s for the writers to determine.  I’m also at the disadvantage in that I don’t know the future storylines that the writers have in mind, so I’m just going with what I have on hand right now.

Also understand that I'm not looking for some sort of "reality show" style drama here - the superheroics and super battles are the mainstay for books of a superhero team, and always will be.  But stories of a superhero team are also about relationships of the heroes with each other.  Done right, it can make for some awesome stories - and I think Argo 5 can do that.

Let’s go ahead and hit on the big question when it comes to my reviews, and that question is: Do I want to know “what happens next?”  Answering that question is the make-or-break of my interest in a given comic, and the answer to that question in regards to Argo 5 is: Yes!  Absolutely!  :-)

If I seem a tad harsh in my words above, I promise that it wasn’t my intent – it was simply me thinking out loud of what I see in Argo 5 so far, and what I hope to see later.  And I see potential – very good potential.  Creating a team of superheroes is a difficult balancing act, but I think Argo 5 has a good start, and I very much look forward to future issues.  Good job, guys!  

And as a member of Creators United, Argo 5 has now been officially added to my sidebar that you see right over thar.  ------->

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