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‘Electric Warriors #2’ (review)

Written by Steve Orlando
Illustrated by Travel Foreman 
Published by DC Comics

 

“Good. As for you Oscar Navarro, consider this: Electric warriors fight separately, but survive together.”

Ah, politics.

Something Ian Navarro isn’t very good at.

In fact, for the hero of our story, Ian, now operating with flashy, concussive sonic powers under the Electric Warrior codename War Cry, is remarkably churlish, hot-headed, self-absorbed and short-sighted.

Sure, he’s secretly switched places with his brother Oscar, to bear the burden of becoming an Electric Warrior and one of Earth’s champions, in his place.

But even this nobility is rooted in selfishness, and a rather striking lack of regard for the consequences of his actions.

And for all his pugnacious street-brawling style, even he seems to know he’s in way over his head. Even he seems to realize his brother would fare much better than he in the warground arenas of Covenant, as a champion of his people.

Kana, the octopus champion for Earth’s beast population, now with the codename Deep Dweller, is doing much better. It would appear she is far better suited and prepared for her role than Ian is, and with her newly electric-awakened powers of shapeshifting, control of darkness, and regeneration she is clearly a force to be reckoned with.

And she seems to understand the value of diplomacy, and the power that lies in valor.

A true hero of her people. Even if she is somewhat overly pious about it.

It may prove to be War Cry’s saving grace – that extreme, rebellious chip on his shoulder isn’t very well-suited to following the rules or respecting authority. And in an arbitrary system of intergalactic governance that relies on cruel gladiatorial sport, with rather cruel astra-political consequences that seem primarily to benefit only the universe’s very wealthiest elite, well, maybe a little rebellion is what Covenant is in need of.

Certainly, Firestorm could use a good kick in the head.

But first Ian Navarro’s going to have to learn to get along with his fellow Electric Warriors. And that may not prove so easy. Because all War Cry wants to do is fight.

One of the things I like so much about this book, is that there’s nothing else like it out there. With a backdrop hundreds of years in the future, in a completely new historical period for the DCU, with (so far) only tenuous connections to the rest of continuity past or future, Steve Orlando really does have close to a blank canvass to work on.

The story he’s created with that freedom, is at once bizarre, and compelling, and slightly barbaric, and it’s full of all the possibilities of newly opened universe, complete with all of its alien races, politics, and a burgeoning inter-galactic history waiting to be told.

The true beauty of what Orlando has chosen to do with that however, is that for all the alien, and all the whole-cloth world-building, it is hard to miss the similarity of the dynamics he has set up in this story, with the dynamics we see all around us today.

Two factions of Earth, one the birthchild of a forward-looking and incredibly diverse evolution in the species, the other rooted in the past – proud, aggrieved, resistant to change – each represented in the great contentious edifices of power, battling it out to advance their own interests, as resources and advantages are won or lost according to the effectiveness of their champions. An effectiveness that must rely as much on cooperation as it does on the overtly glorified goal of winning.

Sounds familiar.

And yet, Orlando has managed to turn all the elements within that familiarity sufficiently on its ear, that the allegory is neither heavy handed nor uninteresting.

On the contrary, it makes the whole project just that much more interesting. Because you know that whatever Orlando has in mind for what will play out in these pages, it will not only advance an important historical slice of DC continuity, it will also be imbued with meaning.

Meaning we could probably use.

That’s a nifty trick. Clever, even elegant.

And it promises to be a lot of fun. Even if there will be plenty of cringe-worthy moments. Like the impact War Cry’s irresponsible choices are having on the geo-politics of his home planet. Or the twist that will pit him against the other champion of Earth, as a result of those consequences.

A champion who seems far better equipped for this sort of combat than Ian is himself.

It’s a good thing Deep Dweller doesn’t do well with sound.

Or is it?

Next Issue: Liberty vs. Freedom

 

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