Like many, I discovered Daniel Warren Johnson because of the mostly excellent Extremity, which he impressively wrote and illustrated. That’s why it’s so upsetting that Murder Falcon continues to dive-bomb. Get it? It’s a bird–never mind.
It’s clear to see Johnson put a lot of heart and soul into the character development of the main character, Jake. When the series first started, Jake grappling with his traumatic past was the most engaging aspect .
The problem is, his arc has been repeating the same beats every issue. Begin with him feeling a little down, but then he teams up with his band and he overcomes his baggage. Rinse. Repeat. Effective arcs take place over the whole course of a story and aren’t afraid to keep their character in the dark before they truly learn their lesson. Here, there’s no tension or gripping emotional stakes.
I remain unfazed by stories that rely on “METAL” to be supposedly awesome. The gimmick didn’t work in Dark Nights: Metal and it doesn’t work here. You can throw as many generic, spiky crustacean space monsters at us as you want, but how many times can we see a bird punch them before it’s same-old? Hint: not many. The gimmick of the human characters just playing instruments to act as spinach for a bird version of Popeye also deflates much of the action/tension.
The overarching baddy, Magnum Khaos, makes some fleeting appearances to talk menacingly and control some of the monsters. Yet, other than a gnarly design, there’s nothing to him yet. Extremity’s villains were so convincing because you could understand their position. They wanted revenge–just like our protagonists, which called into question who were the real heroes. Khaos is an uninspired riff on classic Doctor Doom: a totally wicked meglo-maniac with a big mouth. Problem is, if Khaos is supposed to be a pure embodiment of evil, he lacks the terrifying gravitas of somebody like Darkseid as written by Grant Morrison.
Johnson’s art is strong, however. He uses motion lines like nobody in the West’s business, and his composition and talent for illustrating hulking monsters makes for understandable action scenes. The coloring isn’t terribly exceptional, especially with an over-reliance on generic primary colors. It does admittedly look like a ’90s cartoon, which may titillate some.