Haven’t caught up on a series but aren’t sure where to find the single issues? Trade paperbacks are your way to go. Marvel Comics is releasing just such a trade for Strikeforce, a series written by Tini Howard with art by German Peralta and Jacopo Camagni that I missed as it came out. One joy I think all superhero comic fans take part in is mixing up characters to create your own unique team. Howard and Peralta have done so here, mixing characters together in this new team book you’ve never seen fight side by side before. This first volume answers important questions like, “Why does this team need to exist at all?” and “Can a team sustain two magic-wielding characters at once?”
To the first question above, this book does give a good reason for this team to exist in the first issue, by starting out as an Avengers book. It’s not until a few issues in that the Avengers run into Strikeforce and we find out why they’re together at all. We’ve seen the concept here and there before, but the idea of putting your most powerful super team in danger of being mind-controlled or body swapped is a bad idea. Best to place less powerful characters — each of which with a strong constitution — in the front line. At least that is Blade’s idea, and it carries out pretty well. The team is quite cool and it has all the parts you need, like the heavy (Angela), the leader (Blade), the flyer (Spectrum), the soldier (Winter Soldier), and the magic wielder (Wiccan). Hellstrom is forced onto the team and Spider-Woman adds some quirk to the team. Overall the book makes a solid case to justify its existence.
As stories go, this is a fun romp from one conflict to another all linked together by a threat that can take the form of anyone as long as they are captured. The romp is extra-fun thanks to the various location changes, from Indonesia jungles to Las Vegas night clubs. The team is always chasing something or someone, so it’s hard to get bored. There are, of course, many great character moments and Angela may steal the show in most of these issues. Blade’s stone-cold humor is fun, and Wiccan is well written too, but I found myself wanting to see more of Angela after every turn. She’s got the bullheaded nature of Thor, but also a reckless abandon that is her own.
The art by Peralta (with Camagni for issue #5) with colors by Jordie Bellaire, Miroslav Mrva and Guru-eFX is solid. I appreciate how often the characters are depicted full body on the page rather than various mid to close up shots. This helps keep the characters’ position within the space in your head while sh*t hits the fan. Visual comedy is well done too and I might just love Satana 10 times more thanks to how she’s drawn and written here. It’s a slight bummer Peralta didn’t draw all the issues, but Camagni fills in well with a slightly cartoony look that suits the Ghost conflict.
I did have a few issues with this book, namely Spider-Woman being underused and some janky smash cuts between issues. Spider-Woman certainly gets lines of dialogue, but they don’t land as solidly as the rest of the characters, nor does she have a ton to do. The cutting between issues is jarring, with the first issue ending in Indonesia than the second opening on Las Vegas. Then between issue #4 and #5, they go from Indonesia to Detroit. I could see it working if done differently, but here it is confusing.
Strikeforce has a lot of promise and a killer lineup. In its first few issues, Howard and Peralta have proven it’s a worthy team thanks to the clever dynamics between them. Save for some minor gripes, I had a fun time reading this one.