What happens when you have a book that tries so hard to defeat its tropes, but ends up falling a little bit short? You get a book that just might be a contender.
The perfect soldier without a past, the beautiful girl who can kick ass, the omniscient national security agency that she works for, and a conspiracy that could not only destroy the fragile fabric of world peace, but result in coupling based on a foundation of surviving danger and hot sex. Put those together, and you get a good amount of action stories that are neither refreshing, or innovative in some fashion. In this case, however, you get Garrison #5, which ends up unable to decide whether it wants to be excellent, or just mediocre.
Now, before I begin to analyze my thoughts on this book, let me just say that I am coming into this pretty cold, so there are still some questions I really don't have the answers to, so I will do this to best of my ability. However, I will say that I am looking forward to finding the answers, so it'll probably reflect my final score in a positive light, which is always a good thing.
As for the issue itself, Issue #5 drops you into an already precarious situation, where our main female character (Jillian) breaks rank in her organization to save the main male character (Garrison) from what seems like a situation (not really) he won't survive without help, and the story unfolds from there. Which parts work, and what parts don't in this reviewer's eyes? Lets take a look, shall we?
Garrison does quite a few things right, to be honest. For starters, the characters aren't completely infallible, which would make them completely boring. Even Garrison, with all of his skills, and the dozens of Martial Arts that he's mastered, don't hide the fact that he would rather end fights quickly, or not even really fight at all if its not necessary. As for Jillian, she's beyond not totally useless, as we find out that she has her own mind about things, and is quite capable as she thought ahead in a way that would usually be reserved for the male character. Also, the overlaying storyline seems quite riveting in its mystery. From what this reviewer saw, it seems like the War on Terror has had its worst case scenario come completely true, and now America is stuck fighting wars without end, with seemingly little benefit. I had a bit of fun speculating what the world make up looks like. However, this book is not without its flaws, especially when it decides to play to its genre conventions. Jillian comes off as extremely annoying when she tries to lecture Garrison for his cold-blooded attitude, which makes the last two pages seem out of place, especially with the “twist” ending. Maybe the twist ending was necessary, but the condescending attitude was not.
In the end, this book is also hindered by the relative inaccessibility to those who decided to jump-in from this issue. Even though I was curious to finding out the answers to those questions, it still won't make it any easier for those people to understand it, and there isn't enough good (like in say Fables), to ignore this issue. Also, the art does work for the setting, but it seems like there could be a lot more effort put into the panels. Then again, it could be following the pattern of this book, where you find things to like and despise all in one issue. And yet, I still look forward to the release of the trade (especially if the price is right), and to at least seeing what happens next. I guess this means that book did something right.
Story ***1/4 (6.5 out of 10): The characters are quite compelling, and the world draws you into its potentially Distopian outlook, but some of the jarring moments make something that could've been excellent just above average.
Art **1/2 (5 out of 10): The art hovers from good to bad, which makes this book look quite uneven and average overall
Accessibility ** (4 out of 10): This book isn't totally un-followable for new readers, but it comes close to it. You'd be much better off waiting for the trade, as this book is so written for the format.
Final Breakdown (All three categories plus Intangibles): *** (6 out of 10)