“The Great Ten” #9 marks the conclusion to the series despite it beginning as a ten-issue mini (see the title for a clue why), but that doesn’t stop it from finishing strongly spanning story of Chinese gods returning to bring down a government that’s forgotten the old ways, you wouldn’t know it from this issue, which flows out of the last perfectly with one of the best issues of the whole series. If this is the rushed conclusion to the series- while wrapping the story up completely and without any sense that anything was cut to make this issue work. Fans won’t walk away disappointed.
Last issue, all signs pointed to Socialist Red Guardsman being a traitor to the Great Ten and the Chinese government, so Mother of Champions goes to see her dying teammate in the Gobi Desert. These are the only two members of the Great Ten to not receive an issue spotlighting their origin/history, but Tony Bedard solves that problem in a clever manner revolving around the Mother of Champions’ power, which also acts as a solution to the army of robots heading to attack Beijing.
Bedard’s narration of the issue is some of his best to date, while he brings the series full circle with the Socialist Red Guardsman and Mother of Champions debating the direction of China in the 21st century, mirroring the reason the ‘gods’ have returned. While we don’t get the Social Red Guardsman’s origin, it doesn’t feel like it’s missing since enough information is given about him to give an idea of who he is.
A possible complaint with the writing that reflects on the series being shortened by an issue is that there is no explicit end to the threat against China. However, the ending implies that conclusion strongly and ends on a positive note, restoring any fractures within the Great Ten and ending the threat of the returned ‘gods.’
As the series has progressed, Scott McDaniel’s work on it has grown on me. His art has a rushed, unfinished quality to it at times, but that conveys a strong energy in his pencils. His figures always look in motion, or about to spring into motion. His work on the Socialist Red Guardsman is very strong in this issue with his barely contained rage and frustration over everything that’s been happening in China and with himself. The contrast with how he looks after speaking with Mother of Champions tells you so much about her character and her effect on others. He does something similar near the end of the issue with the panels beginning and ending a page, showing his ability to depict emotion.
It’s a shame that “The Great Ten” had to finish one issue short of its promised run, but it does so strongly with some of the best narration of the series. Tony Bedard and Scott McDaniel made these characters come alive over the last nine issues and, hopefully, other creators will pick up where they left off and the Great Ten will make appearances in other DCU books. Their position is unique and, now, who each member of the team is is clear. All in all, it was a good, solid series that showed Tony Bedard’s ability to take some simple concepts and flesh them out, and Scott McDaniel’s ability to draw energetic, lively superhero comics.