The final issue of this fun miniseries is here! Unlike previous issues, which worked best when they kept things light and exciting, this issue really hits its mark best in the quiet moments. There’s a bit towards the beginning of the issue where Steve seems to really acknowledge how different he is now, how difficult his life is going to be, possibly for the first time. It’s a single silent frame that speaks volumes about his frame of mind.
Of course, Steve Austin keeps smiling and charging headlong into the next plan. This is all so fresh for him that he sometimes doesn’t even know what the correct protocol is, but he keeps moving forward all the same. It’s the only way to not worry about what he’s become. Christopher Hastings’ script isn’t exactly preoccupied with these existential terrors, but these more serious moments are very welcome and effective, as well as a welcome storytelling layer to break up all the punching.
But oh, what glorious punching there is! The action scene that closes the issue is a lot of fun, with Steve and Niko having to use their wits in place of Steve’s usual bionic badassery. The banter during these sequences is hilarious, showing that the two spies have finally gained a real understanding of how one another thinks. Niko can cut through Steve’s quips quicker than ever, while Steve is finally kind of learning how to be a true spy, despite his apparent lack of training.
As always, David Hahn’s artwork is a treat for the eyes. In this issue, he gets to have a lot of fun drawing a particularly nasty foe, as well as some truly hilarious facial expressions from Steve and everyone else grossed out by this villain.
Another aspect that really steals the show here is the superb lettering by Ariana Maher, who finds a fun different style for every situation. I particularly enjoyed the villainous Amari’s “monstrous” speeches, which looked just as sickness-inducing as the creature itself. Even when the villain screams in Japanese, the Kanji is more jagged and intense than any other characters’. The different sound effects are likewise varied nicely, with the grosser ones having more of a “squishy” design. It’s really fun stuff.
Without spoiling anything, the conclusion of the issue ties up the main plot threads nicely, while still leaving the door open for continuing adventures with Steve and Niko. It does feel like the final confrontation was a little rushed (even Steve seems surprised that it’s all over), but at least there aren’t that many loose ends.
I certainly hope this incarnation of Steve Austin continues, and with this creative team. In many ways, this has been the ideal revamp of the classic series, fully taking advantage of the fun set pieces inherent in the premise, while still finding time to crack wise.