“When all our hope is gone, we have to hold on”- Nine Inch Nails, “We’re In This Together”
Like master alchemists, writer Steve Orlando, artist Davide Tinto, and colorist Francesca Carotenuto turn in a comic that is part “crisis” crossover, part high concept superhero story, and just a whole lot of fun with side of intrigue. Commanders in Crisis #1 also features a truly diverse and multicultural cast of superheroes, who have unique abilities and personalities that aren’t stereotypes. Frontier, Prizefighter, Originator, Sawbones, and Seer might remind you of characters that appear in comics written by creators like Grant Morrison and Kurt Busiek and drawn by Frank Quitely and George Perez, but Orlando and Tinto weave these visual and verbal influences into a wonderful, new multiversal tapestry.
Commanders in Crisis has blockbuster stakes, but Orlando and Tinto seed in personal and human moments for their team of heroes aka the Crisis Command, who get introduced with a double page splash and bold lettering from Fabio Amelia. After a drab, mystery tinged start, colorist Carotenuto pours a metaphorical Jelly Belly machine of colors onto the page as the Crisis Command springs into action against the aptly named Mind Muggers. The name of the baddies alone show the blend of street-level and cosmic action that Commanders in Crisis brings to the table. Whether your ideal superhero story is Final Crisis or the bits in Spider-Man 2 where Peter Parker has no powers and isn’t in costume, this comic has a moment, page, or panel for you. There’s cool, complicated parts, parts that makes you feel, and parts that makes you feel like you’re a kid watching Saturday morning cartoons or picking a book off the spinner rack again.
Commanders in Crisis #1 also does what some of my favorite superhero stories do: it uses eye-popping and memorable things like punching, flying, or something more conceptual like using the power of language to save the day to stand in for abstract ideas like truth, justice, and all that stuff. But, mostly, hope. There is hope in the fact that Prizefighter (aka my new favorite queer superhero) immediately goes from a world-ending team battle to a solo excursion to save a burning building. And Steve Orlando and Davide Tinto create similar hopeful moments from the other members of Crisis Command while building up a formidable opponent that made me instantly want to know what happened in issue two. I would definitely read a long-running series with this team.
Hope also comes through Davide Tinto and Francesca Contenuto’s visuals as well as Orlando’s scripting in Commanders in Crisis #1. Tinto turns in clean, iconic superhero poses while also drawing emotionally open facial expressions when the team is “off the clock”. (I can definitely get into a superhero comic that addresses work/life balance.) His designs hint at the inspirations for each member of Crisis Command while also making something memorable, novel, and connected to their personality. As mentioned earlier, Carotenuto’s varied color palette contributes to their memorable nature. These are characters I would definitely buy merch or action figures of, and I also care deeply whether they live or die.
Commanders in Crisis #1 reads like the comic book equivalent of a doctorate dissertation in superhero comics from writer Steve Orlando and star-making turn for artists Davide Tinto and Francesca Carotenuto. It’s the first chapter in an epic saga that doesn’t neglect character in the midst of its multiversal scope and also leaves room for fluid action, clever concepts, and moments that will make you smile or shudder. This is while basking in the glow of a cast that is truly inclusive, who I can’t wait to see overcome monumental challenges in subsequent issues.
Commanders in Crisis #1 is set to be released on October 14, 2020. You can preorder a copy at your local comic book store using the below form until the final order cutoff of September 21, 2020.
Story: Steve Orlando Art: Davide Tinto
Colors: Francesca Carotenuto Letters: Fabio Amelia
Story: 9.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy
Steve Orlando/Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
Pre-order: comiXology – Kindle