Published By: DC Comics
Written By: Bryan Hill
Art By: N. Steven Harris, Dexter Vines, and Dearbhla Kelly
If you’ve ever read the iconic “Planetary” series (most advisedly the Omnibus imprint), then you know that Michael Cray is nobody you want to mess with. The combination of his inherent lethality and his space-time distortion abilities makes him one of the most unpredictable terrors on two feet. In this second issue of his solo series, his special powers take on a less distinct form, but suffer no gruesomeness because of it. Case in point: he tells his doctor that he accidentally disintegrated a mouse just from touching it. What? And then later on in the issue, we actually see him in grim hand to hand combat with a skilled assailant and–in one particular moment–he grabs the assailant’s arm.
… And the arm spontaneously combusts.
Michael Cray isn’t the one to mess with.
Although his personal mission is shrouded in mystery, we learn very quickly that he possesses the highest grade of assassin skills and that he’s forming a team that he has no intention on being a part of. Bit of a misdirect there right? The usual purpose in team formation is to have a squad around you- but he has no such intentions. Yet, his lack of formal presence on the team he’s crafting together doesn’t move him to ease up on making sure they’ve got what it takes to work under him. His methods aren’t ruthless- but they are insistent. Unforgiving.
Secret Agent vibes and Super Spy overtones are all in and through this book, carefully dancing between what is said between each character and what is acted upon. Turning every page is like running through a dream, the way the plot tilts and wobbles, always fuzzing our clarity on exactly whose allegiances lie where. Interestingly woven into this undulating narrative, are the incorporation of a few of DC’s bigger mainstay characters.
Who are decidedly not on the side of Michael Cray.
The artwork is just as intriguing as you would expect it to be. Lots of gray tones and muted colors, as befitting the mindset and emotional state of an agent and assassin. Vibrant nuance has no footing here, and exacerbated notation of detail are washed out in the laser like focus of each character. Why? Because someone like Michael Cray is only focused on his next target; beyond that, he only has brain space for the end game. Every panel complements this internal theology flawlessly, causing us to focus on what he’s focusing on, and connect to his intimate thoughts when he’s not focusing on anything in particular.
This was a really curiously engaging read, and I’m eagerly awaiting how they plan to deliver on the ever-raising stakes.
3.9 Arrows out of 5