Andy Diggle, Author, Lee Loughridge, Illustrator . Vertigo $9.95 (158p) ISBN 978-1-4012-0198-2

After witnessing one too many covert atrocities, a CIA Special Forces Unit stops taking immoral orders, but it isn't long before their consciences get them killed in a helicopter "accident" far from home. At least that's what the CIA thinks. In fact, the unit survived, returned to the U.S., and is taking down the CIA's dirty operations one heist at a time. British comics veterans—and coauthors of 2000 AD —Diggle and Jock aim to bring the best parts of the 1980s action movie aesthetic to comics with this work, and they largely succeed. But in this first story arc, they rely too heavily on its tropes. Corrupt CIA? Check. Infiltration of a secure office building? Check. Speedboat chase climaxing with a jump off a conveniently placed ramp? Check. Diggle adds a number of fun new touches to his crew of misfits, particularly with some fresh takes on old action movie characters. For example, Jensen is the prototypical hacker, but also a barely repressed actor who patters through even the tensest scenes. Cougar, the strong, silent sniper type, epitomizes cool without saying a word. Jock's art—with its deceptively simple, shadowed figures—is atmospheric and dynamic and shows a flair for inventive layouts. His raw talent could use a little refinement though, as his depiction of action sequences sometimes sacrifices clarity for novelty. These are small quibbles, however. With this work, Diggle and Jock have made sure readers come out ahead on the classic bang-for-buck exchange. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 04/26/2004
Release date: 03/01/2004
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