Jack is back… and so is the awesome marketability of the 24 franchise license for IDW. The comic prequel to next month’s 24 (12?) miniseries event features a great creative team and has a rabid fan base (myself included) ready to snatch up this issue as soon as it hits the stands. Is it good?
24: Underground #1 (IDW Publishing)
After going completely (and understandably) nuts over his girlfriend being killed in the show’s final season, Jack has relocated to the Ukraine (oh, we will address that later). In typical Bauer fashion, he has found a beautiful woman who loves him and has an incredibly “complicated” family situation.
“Baby, I would cut open a man to retrieve a flash drive for you.”
Since this is 24, we know that it’s going to inevitably pull the former CTU agent back into the business of ass kicking.
Unfortunately, Jack’s return foray into violently righting wrongs leads to him being discovered by two very different people… and they both know exactly who he is.
Is It Good?
When the creative team for this one was announced, I had full confidence in Ed Brisson to make it good. Not only is just a flat out good writer, but the man also has the mutant ability to turn comic book marketing attempts into excellent stories.
As expected, Brisson delivered. The story, while a little pedestrian, is enhanced with excellent and authentic dialogue. He nails Bauer’s voice so well that I could actually hear Kiefer Sutherland in my head when he looked up from in one of the panels and said “Trust me”. Of course, that could just be a side effect of my mental illness, but I’ll give Brisson the benefit of the doubt.
But where I was really impressed with this one was the pencil work by Michael Gaydos. I knew the guy was an excellent artist, but I also wasn’t sure that he’d be a good fit for the book. In the many years since I’ve read a book with his art, however, Gaydos’ skills at portraying kinetic actions sequences have grown remarkably. When combined with his already fantastic ability to convey characters’ emotions and some beautifully crisp line work, you end up with an artist whose work was absolutely perfect for the book. (Sometimes being wrong is fun).
The issue wasn’t without its problems, though. For starters, WHAT THE HELL IS JACK BAUER DOING IN UKRAINE?! I’m not an expert on covert operations or anything, but it’s probably not the smartest move to go ‘underground’ right next to a country that’s actively hunting for you.
Maybe he just went there for the country’s world renowned hospitality.
Also, the “big reveal” at the end pretty much feels like an exact replica of the “big reveal” that we’ll get in first episode of the 24 miniseries next month (and that we’ve seen on countless trailers). I trust Brisson to make a good story (and he may not have any control over its overall direction), but that part did make me worried about the story becoming more than a little derivative.
Overall, however, this is a great start to a miniseries that any 24 fan will enjoy reading. Even if you don’t like the show or never watched it, the strong dialogue from Brisson and great artwork by Gaydos are weaving a conspiracy thriller that any lover of great stories has a decent chance of enjoying. You should definitely pick this one up.