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‘Electric Warriors #3’ (review)

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

 

“It shouldn’t take killing an animal to feel empathy for her. You need to consider your actions… and those of your humans.”

 
It’s good to remember that Electric Warriors is a limited series, one which is about halfway over with this issue.

As such, now that we’ve had a little time to lay down necessary groundwork, and get used to our brand-new future-historical pocket of the DCU, it’s about time to get things moving along.

And so, move along we do.

Issue #3 of Electric Warriors starts out smack dab in the middle of the gladiatorial match between War Cry and Deep Dweller, the first-ever combat match in Covenant’s Warground between Electric Warriors who hail from the very same planet.

Earth’s human and animal populations are on the brink of war after the fallout from the defeat War Cry suffered in his combat trial last issue. His second match with Kana will determine which of their peoples will be granted victory on their home planet.

Everything is on the line.

And things do not go well.

At the same time there are two other important matches being waged on Warground, which involve three other members of our cast so far.

One, also, does not end well.

The other, however, uncovers an unexpected secret. A secret about the horrifying truth of the world called Covenant, and the Gil’dishpan class who sit far above it, the Universe’s richest elite, taking their sport and… other pleasures… in the daily clashes of the Electric Warriors locked in combat on behalf of their planets, in the pits far below.

Sitting atop them all, is earth’s own, once heroic alchemical meta-human, Firestorm – now a near omnipotent, cold-hearted demi-god at the center of the brutal games of Space Sector 666, where he rules over their barbaric form of justice as the high Lord Prefector, sole architect of Covenenat and its Warground and the universal peace that they enforce.

He’s a real sonofabitch, too. Seriously, I gotta say, I hope that isn’t Ronnie Raymond still in there. Because if so, he’s not even half the man he once was.

What follows is a desperate gamble by the small team of Electric Warriors assembled by Covenant’s veteran warrior Orthus, to secretly ascend to the highest pinnacles of Covenant in search of the truth.

And what they learn there, shocks them to their core.

Really. It’s gruesome. This is some next-level horror show, going on behind the curtains.

In the process we learn a bit more about our fledging band of new Electric Warriors and the universe they now inhabit. It’s helpful to learn, for example, that all of them – including the Khund, the Dominators, as well as our own Earth warriors – have been selected by Orrthus to join in solidarity in the Games, precisely because, while each of their people’s empires were once mighty in ascendance, now in 2733 AD each are struggling to reclaim their place in the Universe.

Context like this continues to lay down essential connective tissue between DC eras, past and future. It also gives author Steve Orlando a fascinating opportunity to make the members of each of these conquering races, unlikely teammates in a very unlikely band of heroes. A league of champions for their time, despite all the history – and all the future – that cast them, again and again, as mortal adversaries.

Throughout it all, Orlando lays down a clever patter of metaphorical commentary on the tensions of our own current day, finding ways to call attention to the challenges of our political landscape, and the different segments of our own society, through the many different relationships and conflicts playing out between the members of our cast.

It’s really a rather impressive display of narrative juggling, which keeps it all just shy of being heavy-handed – but otherwise, impossible to miss.

A quick shout out to artist Travel Foreman, who’s inking really hits its stride this issue, helping to tie the effects of HiFi’s digital colors with definition that sustains the futuristic look of the book while making it more accessible and enjoyable in style. Good work team. Looking better all the time.

And just in time for the fireworks.

Next Issue: The Insurrection? …Or the Betrayal?

 

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