At this point, this book is a little too much “Iron Man,” “Blue Beetle,” (the Jaime Reyes one) and “Green Lantern” to be exciting or engaging. Former Captain Stewart Trautmann, injured in battle, is trying to acclimate to life in a wheelchair and is having a rough go of it. Cornell fills this issue with a peek into the various aspects of Trautmann’s life – his relationship with his brother, his frustration with his injury, his hope for a meaningful relationship, and his service in Afghanistan. There’s a great deal put forth in this issue, but none of it feels substantive. It largely feels like window dressing at this point as Cornell stretches the issue out, prolonging the final moments in the book that lead to the birth of our (presumed) hero.
Pina’s art answers every challenge that Lee and Cornell send his way, from wheelchairs to firemen, alien space suits to desert caravans. Pina’s work is crisp, clean, and sharply defined. His panel angles and page layouts are as straightforward as any superhero comic on the stands, but those choices, combined with Pina’s crisp art make the art on this title shine. Rockefeller’s colors definitely add some punch to the story, but at times the colors get a little carried away. The five-o’clock shadow on Trautmann’s face looks less like stubble than burnt cork or marker drawn upon his face. That’s the downside to getting carried away, but Rockefeller gets carried away with the high energy visuals of the rest of the story. The space chase is packed with bright colors and energy sizzles that barely stay on the page while Trautmann’s flashbacks are tinged with earthtones as he reflects on his service to country.
The alien dialect used for the suit’s speech smacks of been there, done that. It’s like a milder version of the Blue Beetle/scarab dialog from the most recent “Blue Beetle” series. If this device weren’t played to perfect pitch in “Blue Beetle,” it would be neat and new here, but instead it just feels hollow.
At the end of the day, this is just an average comic book delivering an average story with better than average art. Nothing in this tale is going to stick with me long enough to remember when the next issue comes out. The main character looks like Breach crossed with Kofi from “Power Pack.” Trautmann’s downtrodden lashing out at the world around him doesn’t make him an endearing character and the situation that brings about his “heroic” transformation is lackluster. Of course, this is the first installment of a brand new series in the grand era of decompression, so I’m sure there is plenty more interest and definition set for the months to come. It would have been nice to have some excitement peppered in here though.