Beginning the second half of “Great Ten” with this week’s issue, the structure of focusing on one of the members of China’s government-approved superhero team continues with a spotlight on Ghost Fox Killer, the deadly woman in green. After five issues of origins, Tony Bedard changes it up with this issue, providing the ‘origin’ of one of Ghost Fox Killer’s informants instead of her story. It’s refreshing to have the formula tweaked a little to keep things from growing stagnant.
The plot of the seemingly returned Chinese gods takes an odd turn this issue with the involvement of the government and the Triads, which is where Ghost Fox Killer’s connection comes in. She’s spent years cleaning up the Hong Kong underworld, making the ghosts of the criminals she’s killed her servants, and sparing Ling Enlai to act as an informant. It's something he still does even though he’s high in the ranks, partly out of fear, partly out of love. It’s an interesting hook, but one that’s not explored too much.
Ghost Fox Killer remains something of a mystery in this issue, though hints are given about her true nature through her connection to her ghost servants and her homeland. Not spelling things out is a smart move, because so much has been revealed about other Great Ten members. Leaving one of them to maintain an aura of mystery and intrigue, especially the femme fatale gangster killer, helps keep the team interesting.
Where the issue doesn’t succeed completely is in the advancement of the larger plot. That the plot advances only through whichever character is the focus of an issue hurts it somewhat and makes the pacing of the series jumpy. The direction changes quickly, keeping things interesting, but also losing any sense of flow and consistency from issue to issue. The Triad and government connections come off as forced in this issue because of its focus rather than the logical next step in the story.
Scott McDaniel’s art remains consistently energetic and dynamic. Like previous issues, his finishes on some panels, particularly panels with multiple characters, aren’t the strongest, but his use of shadows in this issue is some of his best. Ghost Fox Killer’s ghost servants look creepy and otherworldly in their movements and appearances, while her homeland has the beauty and majesty needed. His page layouts help the forward momentum of his energetic pencils as he often overlaps panels, making them lead into one another, almost stacked atop one another. His art really drives the book forward with dynamic action scenes and layouts.
One thing that stands out, too, is Ghost Fox Killer’s body language. I hadn’t noticed before, but McDaniel gives a sense of her character through how she stands and moves. The way she tilts her head slightly and moves with a grace that can’t help but convey a little attitude, it makes her stand apart from the others. Definitely some of his best character work.
Which is, of course, ironic, since Bedard purposefully keeps her mysterious. The focus on Ghost Fox Killer makes this one of the strongest instances of “Great Ten” telling the story of one of the heroes, but that formula takes away from the larger plot somewhat. Hopefully, it will all tie together nicely in the end, but, here, just past the midway point, things seem on the verge of unraveling.