In the world of comics, video games, and popular culture, it seems like you can’t turn around without bumping into a special ops team of some sort or another. For Image Comics, the latest team is the Intelligence Support Activity of the US Army, or simply The Activity. Their purpose is to execute operations of every kind all over the world. At their disposal (of course) is an endless array of the latest cutting edge technology.
As this is the first issue, it’s necessary, of course, to introduce the reader to the team members, which they do by cutting in on the action of one of the teams’ operations. The scene is executed like any good action movie would, with several black-suited henchmen incapacitated before they can even get off a shot and the target drugged and captured. We learn a few pages later that the team lost a member, so naturally a green replacement will be accompanying them on the next mission.
Unfortunately, we don’t learn much about any of the characters on the five-member team, except that on missions, they have codenames like Weatherman, Speakeasy, Bookstore, and Switchfoot (take that, GI Joe). The newbie, of course, doesn’t get a name until the mission is over. The sad part is that she doesn’t really even have to do anything to get it. No gunplay, no out-of-the-box thinking, no proving herself valuable. She just watches from a rooftop as the rest of the team burns some files (with aforementioned cutting edge technology) and details some CIA agent’s car (with yet more technology).
I understand the necessity for introductions in a first issue, but frankly I got bored reading this. Aside from the opening pages, there’s no action whatsoever. And for an action comic, this is pretty unforgiveable, especially when the title has the word “activity” in it.
The art is pretty good, though nothing that really jumps out at you. The layout is innovative and information is conveyed inside and outside the bounds of the art panels. However, there were a few instances where I was unsure about which panel to read next, and it seemed that the pages alternated between tons of text and virtually none.
I’m not suggesting anyone give up on the Activity before it has a chance to get going, but the writers need to pick up the pace, starting with panel one of issue two.