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‘New Challengers #6’ (review)

Written by Aaron Gillespie, Scott Snyder
Illustrated by V Ken Mario,Sandu Florea
Published by DC Comics

 

This week marks the final issue of the 6-issue limited run of the New Challengers. For a project that started out with such promise, with a showcase of such excellent characters and fantastic set-ups, it’s really too bad to see it end with a thud.

Maybe that’s because the book went through a significant tonal shift, starting off with Scott Snyder scripting and Adam Kubert on pencils, only to end with Aaron Gillespie and V. Ken Marion taking on those duties to see the project all the way through.

Maybe it’s because there was just too much whack and wild to wrap things up in six issues with complete satisfaction.

And who knows?

Maybe this isn’t the end. Maybe fans will get behind a push to send our next-generation Challengers team out against the mysteries of the great unknown for further ongoing adventures. But I’m not going to hold my breath after the way things wrapped up this month.

It’s probably not much of a spoiler to tell you that by the end of this final issue, our heroes save the day from an unspeakable fate, restoring balance to the multiversal order, and claiming their place as the new rightful Challengers of the Unknown. Yay team.

But how we end up getting there… yeah, I don’t know.

For one thing there’s Moses. The end of last issue finished on a twist that left us all hanging on the expectation that Mo throws in with evil Prof as some sort of long game play to get in close and thwart his plans.

But any such hope of covert heroism is quickly dashed, as it becomes all too clear that it just isn’t so.

Despite the obviously questionable assurances of evil Prof’s intentions, Moses Barber’s decision to aid the bad guys in what will surely lead to the wholesale corruption of our own universe, is exactly what it appears to be. Which, I mean… wtf?

Sure, we’re given some kind of half-baked, core character-development rationale. Hell, we’re regaled with Mo’s narration of the whole issue. And maaaaaybe if Scott Snyder himself was handling that task, he could have managed it in a way that I would have found halfway believable or acceptable.

Maybe.

But he didn’t. And it wasn’t.

Instead what we get are a sequence of yet more astoundingly unlikely events, strung together in a mere handful of pages that results in the rest of the team somehow pulling off a Hail Mary to snatch away victory – and their wayward teammate – from the grasp of the dark multiverse’s evil Challengers reborn. Evil Challengers who are about to make the universe over in their own twisted image.

And despite Mo’s betrayal, and all of the crazy, and all of the dire consequences of that crazy, and all the power being thrown around, and of course the mystery of the dead giant space god whose power it is that’s being thrown around (a dead giant space god who is never actually fully explained, I might add) – despite all of this, and a pretty lame sign-off from the original team, everything ends with a great big, astonishingly tidy bow, just in time to give us a final finale end page of our heroes looking heroically off into the future of yet more Unknown Challenges to come… (Until, that is, their borrowed time runs out.)

…?

Obviously, we all understand what Snyder, Gillespie, and crew are going for. But it’s all a little too much – too much attempted, too much crammed in, too much to accept, too much to wrap up all at once, too much left unexplained and unclear.

There’s a joke in there about the unknown and challenges, but I really just don’t have it in me after all that.

Maybe someone will come along and take up this book again to make it what it ought to be. I honestly hope they do.

Until then, I’m glad they made the attempt. It started out a hell of a lot of fun. Now that the team’s gone and gotten the saving the whole gosh-darn multiverse under their belt, maybe they can all get back to some of that again.

Something tells me that one way or another, we’ll be seeing them all again.

Next Time: Really, if only we knew…

 

 

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