Written by, Mark Millar
Pencils by, John Romita JR
Digital inks and colors by, Peter Steigerwald
Letters by, John Workman
Reviewed By, Tom Zimm
This story begins as a vigilante story that features a female protagonist fighting elements of organized crime to make ends meet for her family. What makes this story interesting and unique has more to do with the protagonist’s path to becoming a vigilante than what she does as a vigilante on her first mission.
The issue begins. The protagonist is dressed in superhero gear but is captured by a couple of criminal-henchmen and taken to their leader. The leader looks like a southwest New Mexico version of a greaser. The verbal intimidation ensues.
The story transitions to a description of the character’s backstory, which takes up most of the book. The protagonist is an American soldier in Afghanistan; she’s surrounded by Afghani militia and outnumbered four to one. However, she defeats her opponents while incurring a bullet wound to the shoulder, with help from a cohort who joins the scrum. Meanwhile, a mob of angry axe and gun-wielding Afghanis surround the soldiers, trapping them in a confined space. The group makes their escape with the protagonist driving them in a vehicle to meet up with their rescuers. This part of the story serves to develop our understanding and appreciation of the protagonist. She’s brave, tough, and willing to go “off reservation” as evidenced by her involvement in this rescue plan without receiving permission from her superiors.
The story continues. She returns to Albuquerque after being discharged due to her injuries. Her kids and family greet her but not her husband, who, had an affair and left her while she was at war. She is aghast and taken aback by her husband’s betrayal, but more upset at his lack of taking responsibility for their family. At the end of this backstory portion she is pictured holding all of the stress when she remembers the mantra of her old army unit: night stalkers don’t quit.
She comes up with a plan to steal money from the criminals who rule her neighborhood. The backstory leads to the present, where the books starts. She is captured by henchmen and taken to their leader. The talking ends, punching and ballbusting ensues. She walks away with the cash.
The premise is given layers by an engaging backstory in the initial issue. I’m interested in an ex military, single mom, making ends meet while taking out organized crime. The fight sequence at the end was awesome: heads torqued up and back by forceful blows, blood pouring from noses, and pain-wrenched faces have never looked so enjoyable.
This story will provoke the righteous indignation of most. However, in order to keep this story going, more layers will need to be added as she continues on her vigilante march. I’m sure the ex-husband will come into her crosshairs sooner or later. However, I’m more interested in seeing how she balances being a mother and remaining true to her values, which includes loving her children and family, then I am in seeing her attack people. So, the backstory give fuel to the fire and doesn’t compete with her role as the night stalker in this well-crafted first issue.