Credits: Joe Casey (writer), Ladronn (penciler), Juan Vlasco (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters), Gloria Vasquez (colors)
Summary: Agent 18, a.k.a. Jack Truman, receives unwelcome backup from SHIELD’s air cavalry. Led by the reckless Larry Young, the air cavalry chases Cable throughout Hell’s Kitchen, destroying buildings and endangering civilians. After Cable rescues a homeless man from a burning building, he’s confronted again by Agent 18. Weakened by the battle and his uncontrolled techno-organic virus, Cable collapses. Meanwhile in Washington, G. W. Bridge suspects a conspiracy within SHIELD. Administrator Seth Waters arrogantly dismisses his concerns.
Review: After Jack Truman’s slow build-up in the last issue, he takes a backseat to an even less likable SHIELD agent (and apparently, another future Deathlok), Larry Young. Young’s a stereotypical government bully who doesn’t care about harming innocents in order to get what he wants, and apparently lives in a fantasy world where there are no repercussions to his insane actions. It’s an extremely shallow characterization, and since the story still hasn’t established why exactly the SHIELD rank and file should care so much about exploiting Cable’s techno-organics, it’s hard not to view him as a cartoon character. Truman redeems himself a bit when he grows suspicious of what exactly his superiors are planning for Cable, and G. W. Bridge has begun to investigate the conspiracy, so there is at least an acknowledgment that the entire organization isn’t corrupt. The story would probably work better if SHIELD had a more legitimate reason to pursue Cable, since Ladronn is doing a great job on the Kirby-tech and incessant explosions, while the conspiracy material drags.
Casey seems to be borrowing from two of Frank Miller’s works, “Born Again” and “Year One” during the extended chase sequence. “Born Again” had a rogue government agent carelessly destroy parts of Hell’s Kitchen, while “Year One” had Batman cornered by corrupt police officers in an abandoned, burning building (Batman saved a cat after the homeless person died in “Year One”). Perhaps he didn’t intend these scenes as Miller tributes, but they’re so familiar it’s hard not to notice the similarities. Not surprisingly, Casey can’t match Miller’s original work, but Ladronn’s art distracts from the unoriginality, which is the role he’s been playing for the larger story arc at this point.