The Activity #16: Review

After a short hiatus, The Activity is finally back — and this time with a ground invasion of Iran. And while I’m delighted to see the boys back in action, don’t get too excited, because something is strangely off with this issue.

Here’s the official word from Image:

“WARFARE WITHOUT WARNING” Special double-size issue. The Activity is going to war.

You can’t blame Nathan Edmondson and Mitch Gerads for taking a little longer to get this latest issue of The TheActivity_16-1Activity out. They have been, after all, been busy putting out one of the best new Punisher series in recent memory. Known for his hyper-realistic plots and keen understanding of modern warfare writer Nathan Edmondson made his mark in the comic’s world with his work in The Activity and found a lovely partner with artist Mitch Gerads while doing so. Take a look at some of the older Activity comics and you’ll see exactly what I mean – the tales are short, but stunningly fulfilling; Edmondson mixes his uncanny knowledge of military strategy with a deep appreciation for human nature, and Gerads captures it all beautifully.

It’s for this reason that I had high hopes for this double size issue, but so many of the things that normally click into place simply aren’t here in issue #16. The plot, which follows a black ops invasion of Iran initially seemed primed for greatness in that it required tons of geeky details about how and when such an invasion might take place, but there was no groundwork laid that might make this tale emotionally fulfilling. While Edmondson normally spends at least some time giving us intimate views into the lives of the soldiers we’re following, emotion felt pushed aside here — a regrettable decision given that Edmondson’s climax is all about emotion, and the loss of a soldier. So yes, emotion comes, but much too late, and it ultimately feels like an add-on.

Even Gerads seems out of sync. He’s a fabulous artist, no doubt, and perfect for this title, blessed with an ability to capture the posture and rich details of soldiers in combat. That said, there are some strange misses here. When illustrating a hostage giving his regrets for the loss of a soldier, the character’s face is strangely flat, essentially turning the moment into a throw away line.

I know this seems like a harsh review, but the fact is this: if any other team had put this issue out, I’d be pleased with the result. But I’ve come to expect so much out of this title and this team that the bar is higher than the average monthly comic. And this time they fell short.

+ Double Issue - But Half the Greatness of a Standard Activity Comic

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