In a multiverse, anything is possible. A multitude of Earths, each with its own series of diverging paths. Some of those paths lead to glory, while others are destined only for destruction. In Commanders in Crisis, four superheroes from doomed Earths are rescued minutes before their worlds implode. Together, they are the Crisis Commanders, sworn protectors of the new earth they now call home. The first arc of this series, created and written by Steve Orlando, is as stirring as it is irreverent. The first six issues of this series have been collected into a trade paperback, available now from Image Comics.
This is probably a blasphemous statement, but I don’t think Steve Orlando is a very good storyteller. Don’t get me wrong the guy excels at writing characters. He’s also clearly talented at writing scripts that are easy for the artist(s) to follow, as books he writes always look really good. Unfortunately, a story needs more than flashy concepts and interesting characters. The plot of Commanders in Crisis feels stapled together. The narrative ambles along from one plot point to the next, but never makes a lot of sense. There’s just too much going on within this six-issue story arc. Orlando peppers the story with super heroics, murder mystery, interpersonal drama, existential dread, and domestic terrorism but doesn’t do a good job of connecting all the elements together. Although there are some cool single moments, most of the story ends up being convoluted and confounding.
One thing I did enjoy about Commander in Crisis was the characters. They all have distinct personalities and possess creative powers. They also go through realistic struggles as they strive to understand and control their superpowers. The uniqueness of their powers sets the heroes, and this series, apart from other team superhero books. The Crisis Commanders roster also boasts a high level of diversity. That being said, obviously, any representation is great, but the characters’ diversities felt forced. Each characters’ racial differences and sexual orientations are used to describe who they are on the outside, but then are never really used to define who they are on the inside. By the end of the book, most of the characters felt more like tokens than representations.
As I said above, Orlando’s script and collaboration allow co-creator and artist Davide Tinto’s illustrations to really shine. The narrative’s timeline is easy to visually follow and the action sequences have a dynamic look. I especially appreciated the wide panels used in the page layouts. Using larger panels gives Tinto the chance to showcase the character’s emotions by drawing realistic expressions on their faces. The wide-set panels also makes letterer Fabio Amelia’s job easier, as he often has a lot of dialogue he has to fit in a single panel. Even with expert lettering and spacious framing, there are single panels that look cramped because of everything that is crammed into them.
Commanders in Crisis is the type of comic that doesn’t take itself seriously. Orlando takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to the superhero genre, especially enjoyed the cheeky nods to the comic book industry. The story is full of creative concepts and exciting elements but beyond that, a lot of the story itself doesn’t make much sense. Despite its off-kilter writing, the artwork and general wackiness of this series do produce a few entertaining scenes. However, this is a title that readers should first browse before they commit to purchasing this trade paperback.
Creator & Writer: Steve Orlando Creator & Artist: Davide Tinto
Colorist: Francesca Carotenuto Letterer: Fabio Amelia
Story: 4.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Browse
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review