So far on the site, I’ve only covered the big two in the comic industry, Marvel and DC Comics. However, there is a much wider world of larger-than-life characters coming from the other comic book companies, especially Image Comics. Image Comics is the largest publisher of creator-owned titles. Thus, it is no surprise that Steve Orlando, the writer of 2018’s Martian Manhunter mini-series for DC, has jumped over to Image to be released from the shackles of company-owned characters. What likely started out as a pitch for the Justice League of America, has turned into one of the more interesting new series to come out of Image this year. The first issue of Commanders In Crisis is a masterclass in how to introduce readers to a new team of colorful characters. Mild spoilers for Commanders In Crisis #1.
Commanders In Crisis introduces us to a world that is quite similar to our own. It has divisive politics, an increase in progressive viewpoints and time travelling super-powered maniacs. Okay, maybe not that last thing, but Commanders In Crisis seems to have a firm grasp on the political climate of not just the United States, where the comic is based in, but the world at large as well. This is best symbolized in how different each member of the comic’s premier superhero team, the Crisis Command, are from each other.
The Crisis Command consist of five members, each with unique skill sets and personalities, making them essential to the team. Frontier is the hyper-intelligent engineer of the group, designing their tech and aiding their missions from behind a screen. She acts as the eyes and ears of the team, alerting the team of potential threats.
Prizefighter seems to be the face of the group, likely due to his physical strength increasing due to the amount of praise he is receiving from bystanders during his heroic acts. It seems the true prize is the adoration he gets from his fans.
Seer, at first glance, appears to be nearly omnipotent due to her powerful telekinetic abilities. However, her powerful mind can not stop her physical body being drained due to overexerting herself. Luckily, Originator seems to make up for Seer’s weaknesses with her unknown magical abilities. While I hope Originator’s abilities are explained later in the story, I don’t mind being in the dark as the dynamic between the group is more important than exposition about their specific powers.
The last member of the group is Sawbones, who appears to be an expert combatant with goggles that enhance his eyesight. He may not be as smart as Frontier or Seer, but he knows his way around the human body and the quickest way to disable it. Sawbones is definitely not a hero you’d want to pick a fight in a dark alley with.
These heroes protect the Earth as it is the only home any of them have, defending it from various threats. Most of the enemies they face in this issue are small in scale, being a small group of enhanced opponents or a malicious potential serial killer. However, the team seem to think these threats appearing so close to each other is no mere coincidence.
Steve Orlando may be writing this story, but it is artist Davide Tinto and colorist Francesca Carotenuto who bring these characters to life and fill them with charm. I particularly love the costume designs for everyone, especially Frontier whose design is elegant yet blocky, giving it a futuristic mechanic feel. Many of the character’s designs are influenced by their respective backgrounds, with Prize Fighter’s looking like a mashup between a gladiator and a pro wrestler, Seer appearing like a goddess, Originator having a mythical middle-eastern look and Sawbones’ design being made up of military and tactical clothing. This along with the beautiful action panels displaying a large range of color give Commanders In Crisis a classic team-up book feel despite all of these fantastic characters being introduced within this issue.
Commanders In Crisis seems to be an excellent play on the many “Crisis” events that have occurred at DC over the years, while diving head first into modern politics. The characters are excellent and although I won’t talk about their backstories here, they have heavily intrigued me. It should also be noted that letterer Fabio Amelia did a brilliant job throughout this issue, especially during the Crisis Command’s introduction. I am curious to see how the creative team will use this bigger-than-the-universe threat the heroes might be facing. I cannot wait for the next issue.