[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Klaus Janson and Andy Kubert
Artists: Aaron Gillespie and Scott Snyder
Four strangers are transported to a subterranean chamber beneath a mountain in Colorado. A trench-coat wearing stranger named Prof. tells them that they have been chosen to follow in the footsteps of the Challengers of the Unknown. Now, are they ready to save the world and the universe by tempting death?
I like the opening in a plane with lightning, a terrified pilot, and a mysterious stranger with bandages on his face and a glowing blue artifact that makes a “Wom, Wom” sound. I almost burst out laughing.
It was like the Laura Dern story when she was filming for Star Wars: The Last Jedi and they had to tell her to stop saying “Pew, Pew” when she fired her weapon.
Personal Disclaimer: I just realized that this is my second review with a Star Wars reference. Don’t believe me? Check out my review for Damage #4. Go ahead, you can come right back.
See! It happens to the best of us. I’m in a groove right now, but I can find better examples. Thanks for your patience. I always accept suggestions, just leave one below.
Now, back to our story…
I know that many a great story introduced a light side in the beginning only to offer an equally dark balance as the story progressed, and if the New Challengers writing team brings that to bear it will provide some redemption. Now, I just need one of the characters to show us that first hint.
Great splash scene on Page 5 with the pilot falling out.
Equally love the bandaged man, crashing the plane in the mountains and then grinning at his success.
I like the characters we meet. One a healer, the other a SPYRAL agent, one quiet and shy, and the fourth is a very large man who goes by Krunch. One word. Like Prince.
I also like the two perspectives on the hourglass mark that is made on the forearm of the Challengers. One calls it a brand, the other a tattoo, and the mysterious Prof. calls it a tracking device. When the time runs out in the hourglass they die.
Love the splash page of frozen water — my only disclaimer about this is in the Negatives.
On the flip side of the humor that I enjoyed from the mystery artifact making a “Wom, Wom” sound, honestly, it keeps the book from becoming anything more than camp right now. I think it deserves a little better than that, but balance and aesthetic are personal in the long game.
Spoiler, the SPYRAL guy eats it. Much like Suicide Squad, both the comic and the movie portrayal, someone has to test the theory and the testy agent decides to go for a walk. Turns out everyone is still coalescing, so he melts like ice cream and a new Challenger arrives. I get the need, and that the addition is a woman for balance to the team, but I think scarring the agent for attempting to leave early on and then having him die stubbornly later would have added to the tension and made both moments more powerful.
The gorgeous splash page of frozen ice is diminished by the dramatic “at the end of the world,” quote. It was annoying to have a great image weakened by one bad line.
At the end of Dark Nights: Metal, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman discuss the changes that have developed. Batman points out that returning Challengers Mountain is one of the things that was set right again in the world. By tapping into a rich vein of DC history, it might be a herald of the non-powered characters in storytelling that has always made titles like Justice League stronger. This issue opens with enough history and mystery to give itself a fair chance. Make it all sing by the fifth issue and all will be right again in the DCU.