An advance review of Nathan Edmondson's newest title, The Activity.
Credits & Solicit Info:
The Activity #1, by Nathan Edmondson & Mitch Gerads. Image Comics $3.50.
Release Date: December 21, 2011
The evolution of global warfare necessitates the evolution of special forces to rise and meet the call. The U.S Army has therefore looked to its last secret special operations tribe, the INTELLIGENCE SUPPORT ACTIVITY, or Gray Fox. Within Gray Fox is a team of elite men and women whose mission is flexible, whose technology is bleeding edge, and whose execution is precise and lethal. They are Team Omaha, and they serve THE ACTIVITY.
The Activity is a new espionage series from Image, maybe in the mold of The Unit, maybe a little more spy-oriented like DC's new Blackhawks. I say maybe because it's not easy to tell from this issue; it's good, but outside of introducing the team does little to distinguish itself from other entries in the genre. Not that that's a bad thing- just incomplete as far as it goes.
What I do like it that it IS an espionage comic, and a competently done one at that. It concerns the super-secret team, the one that are even above Delta - the problem solvers who do the important jobs quickly and quietly. As I said, there is nothing new here (yet), but what is here is well-executed. The story introduces the team and basic mission well, without any excess dialogue that can often clog up stories like these. (I really don't think I need "sigint" explained to me again, and if it is needed, just slap a glossary in the back.) The action is basic but logical for the story, and doesn't draw itself out, a bonus in an introductory issue like this one.
The issue opens with the team- Team Omaha- on a mission, a nice active opening and introduction to the characters. The characters all have great, offbeat codenames; Bookstore, Speakeasy, Switchfoot, and how they get their codenames is part of the story told here. We also find out that the team lost a member on a previous mission, which allows for a nice character moment that highlights the close-knit nature of the team.
Of course, the loss of a member means the introduction of a new one, and the rest of the issue deals with the new member's trial run. That includes the picking of her new codename- IF she holds up on the operation. (The op is so basic and easy that I can't help but think it will come up again later.) There's also a nice character moment with the new recruit that highlights what she'll have to give up to join this team.
The art is good, with some nice touches for action (I really liked the shots in the dark on page 3) though in general it tends to be a bit static & stiff, more slide-show than movie. There's also a bit of reliance on what I think are photo-references- Simon Baker shows up a couple of times, and Jon Hamm at least once. It's not terribly obvious or distracting, but I did notice it. Overall the art gets the job done, and I'm always happy when I can tell new characters apart just by looking at them.
Bottom Line: A good espionage book, if that's your thing, and one worth keeping an eye on. I'll promote diversity over superheroes every time. (Nothing wrong with the capes, except that there's too many of them.)
For Fans of: The Losers, DCnU Blackhawks, Mission: Impossible, tv shows like The Unit and 24.
Review by: BD Montgomery, Outhouse Contributor