It’s easy to imagine some readers expecting more of the same being let down by Commanders in Crisis’s sophomore effort. After issue #1 hit fast and furious with a team of former alternate-universe Presidents with reality-bending powers battling maddened time-travelers, a hinted-at decades-spanning superheroic history of vampires, mega-gods, and insidious global conspiracies, and ideacide, Orlando, Tinto, and company pull back on the throttle hard here to (relatively) standard capes-and-tights rescues. In practice, however, it’s a necessary and engaging clarification of the finer points of and human angles on the big concepts already introduced, highlighting several of the thematic strands that’ll play out over the course of the series.
“The Action of Resurrection” is as much of a comedown for the heroes as the readers, reeling from the last issue’s final-page cliffhanger and split between those trying to parse the mystery and those forced to wait and see what comes of it. It’s a refocusing suited well to the art team’s inclinations, Tinto’s dynamic poses and expressive characters selling what could have been tepid talking-head scenes in lesser hands, but no less important is Orlando’s work to keep the tension ratcheted up in an issue with nominally little action. The unique framing of the title heroes’ powers as established in the first issue plays out here in showing how they’re perceived by the world around them and forced to respond and measure their responsibilities in turn. Even as it humanizes and further establishes these new leads, it at the same time reinforces the both metaphorically and sometimes categorically godlike scale of what they do, and the attendant debates surrounding those powers – and where they may disagree – look ready to spark in any number of directions as the book continues.
By the same token, while the political aspects were reasonably overt in the first issue, the focus was on the action and cosmic danger, establishing itself as a sort of battered-and-bruised but defiant unofficial sequel to Final Crisis and Multiversity. While those elements are still in play here from page one, the focus in here is on Commanders in Crisis as also existing in the vein of the likes of Stormwatch and Jupiter’s Legacy in attempting to grapple with where power far beyond that of mortal men collides against political power. Those new spins on old debates of power and responsibility are largely framed in terms of differing notions of authority and community, and just as much as the seeds of potential internal divides have been planted, the ways the Crisis Command is simultaneously tangled up in and set against the United States and its own various exercises of strength are guaranteed to come to a head of their own.
In spite of its virtues, some are sure to be a touch disappointed at not quite getting what the premiere advertised. But most should be more than satisfied with the new angles this chooses to engage with, and with the conclusion heralding a return to higher stakes and threats from all sides brewing, it seems likely there’ll be something for everyone in future issues. Early as it may be, many of the grand promises of the pilot already look on track to be fulfilled.
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