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Chain Reactions | The Activity #1

The Activity #1

Image Comics released the first issue of The Activity a couple of weeks ago, by writer Nathan Edmondon and artist Mitch Gerads. The comic focuses on the U.S Army’s 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.”

Edmondson has been making a name lately on espionage-fueled series like Grifter and Who Is Jake Ellis?, and with the second issue of The Activity due in a couple of weeks, I thought I’d go back and see what people thought of the first issue. Here are just a few of the reviews so far:

Brian Bannen, Unwinnable: “Buying a first issue of a new series can be a lot like gambling. Usually, you get a 50/50 chance of picking up a real stinker. The Activity, however, reads like Brian De Palma’s Mission Impossible. Nathan Edmondson (Olympus) pens the tale of an elite squad of military and civilian personnel, each with his or her own special talent. While their task still remains a secret, I enjoyed the spy-thriller feel Edmondson crafts and the uneasy resolution with which he leaves readers.”

Dustin Cabeal, Comic Bastards: “Edmondson comes out strong with this issue and frankly it’s some of his best work thus far. The issue almost seems like a love note to spy movies, with a panel that seems like it was swiped from the first Mission Impossible. The true strength of the story is that Edmondson adds elements of other genres to the book, including the heist/con genre. That added element mixes up the story in a way that truly has me interested in what can come next in this comic.”

Mandi Odoerfer, CSICON: “The Activity certainly was worth my time. Engaging characters were introduced, and an intriguing premise is set up, but the book’s pace remains fluid, and readers are never flooded with information. However, I was disappointed by the mission we saw the team members game on. It was so simple and basic that it barely felt like anything had happened, and it certainly didn’t seem like the sort of work you’d need a secret team of ‘problem solvers’ to take care of. It’s possible that Edmondson wanted to ease new readers into the setting before diving into something complex, and it’s equally possible that the simplicity of the mission is a clue in itself, and he’s building up to something huge and unexpected. I just wish we’d gotten a chance to see some of the suspense that he’s so good at crafting here. I was more intrigued by the series of numbers we were shown at the end than anything that took place in the story itself.”

Todd Allen, The Beat: “The Activity is also definitely in the ‘widescreen’ tradition of comics storytelling that used to be quite the buzzword a few years back. This has a very cinematic feel and the brisk pacing of a caper film. There really isn’t that much more to say about it without getting into the actual mission. This comic doesn’t waste a lot of time establishing tone or identity and is a solid debut.”

Jeff Marsick, Newsarama: “Unfortunately, the title is somewhat misleading, because there really isn’t any meaningful activity in its twenty-four pages nor is there any edgy tech. On paper it’s a cool concept, and given what Nathan Edmondson did with the phenomenal (my choice for best book of 2011) Who Is Jake Ellis?, easy money says this would grip you by page three at the latest. Plot-wise, though, it reeks overly familiar of the show Spooks (aka MI-5 here in the States) liberally peppered with The Unit with a splash of CSI and follows the standard yawn-inducing first-issue recipe of ‘Meet and Greet our Cast.’”

Poet Mase, IGN: “I’m going to go ahead and assume that you’re like me in not being too familiar with Mitch Gerads’ work. Well, it’s good. Damn good. Gerads has a good sense of light and shadow to go with strong texture work. His layouts are extremely effective at pulling the reader into the next frame or page. The most abundantly apparent quality about the art is that Gerads is an excellent storyteller, as he shows himself capable of carrying the story even in sections written entirely in a foreign language. Kyle Latino is credited as Gerads’ ‘color assistant,’ but it looks as if the colors were largely selected and directed with the same cinematic style that guided the pencils and inks.”

Dean Stell, Weekly Comic Book Review: “This issue didn’t try anything too complicated. It just introduced us to the team through the eyes of its newest member. That’s always a reliable and intimate way to view this type of action (the alternative being a story told in complete third person like GI Joe). And the creators take us on a few simple little missions. These aren’t action epics….just quickies that show what kinds of things the team can do. They can shoot when they have to, but they’re just as happy to stay behind the scenes and use high tech gadgets. I’d imagine that we’ll be getting multi-issue stories in the future, but this issue does a nice job of kicking things off [for] the new readers.”

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