[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Tyler Kirkham
The Immortal Men are pinned down and there looks to be no way out. Caden Park is barely learning to use his powers. Reload is held prisoner and forced to watch the battle play out. Ghost Fist is running out of juice. Timber barely has room to move and Kitty is not as big as I have seen him get.
The Immortal Man has been a mysterious figure since the pages of Dark Nights: Metal and Forge. Like Vandal Savage or Darkseid, more is said about him than there are scenes with or of him. That all changes in this issue. We finally get his backstory and the tale of finding the meteor and his relationship with The Infinite Woman. Before the meteor they were brother and sister, of the Bear Clan and the night had ended with a good hunt. Her name was Kyra then. But the night brings shadows and stories and the meteor and change.
And we learn that there were five members of the Bear Clan who were exposed to the meteor. Five siblings and five ideologies on how to wield their immortality. The houses of Action, Conquest, Knowledge, Harmony, and Expression. Until now the one rule had been to stay out of each other’s way.
That changes when the Bloodless begin to close in on orders from the Infinite Woman. Ghost Fist can’t pull enough spectral energy from the air to fight off the Bloodless. Timber grows over two stories tall and crashes through the roof of the building where they were hiding. The images are matched by a great background story about Timber clearing a forest in one night, and the story reached The Immortal Man.
Caden learns how to use his powers. It’s a great awakening moment. Caden turns to Ghost Fist and says wait. Think about Karate and stuff. Ghost Fist corrects him that he knows Kung Fu. “Now do it again,” Caden says. Caden has the ability to glean things from people’s thoughts or memories. By doing this when Ghost Fist thinks of martial arts he is able to take that piece of their memory and turn it into a skill. It’s adorable the way he references the classic scene from Matrix when the Neo played by Keanu Reeves masters his first martial arts style. Caden then says, “Eat your heart out Keanu Reeves.” Caden leaps into the air and while firing off a kick says, “I know Kung Fu.”
The Immortal Man steps up and we get to see him in action. The voiceover is moving and compelling. Crafting a narrative that spans millennia of skills and experience.
The Immortal Man knocks out Kyra and draws the attention of the Bloodless. He kills at least 50 creatures in the panels we see and it is impressive, but in the end, his own sister stabs him in the back. I love that she tells him this is the end, and his reply, “There is no end,” is the textbook answer I wanted to hear. That’s the kind of thing you have to say when you are a leader
The Infinite Woman gives them 24 hours to mourn and then she will hunt them down unless they join her.
Reload is held prisoner by The Hunt. He sees The Immortal Man die, but it’s really not clear why else his scenes are there. I know why they should be there, the scene we do witness sets up The Immortal Woman’s final act, but something happened on the editing floor and I feel like there should be more going on at this moment.
I think this issue missed out by not alluding to the other clans. Hawkman is only two issues behind this title. We know from Dark Nights that he is a part of the story. If the backstory for The Immortal Man hinted at this, it would be a great seed to help the expand the mystery at the end.
This one ends with the strongest cliffhanger yet. The Immortal Man was the whole reason for The Immortal Men to keep fighting. They were are part of his house. No one is strong enough to take his place. Maybe when we learn whether Caden really did receive a final message we can see what his real role is in this story.