Image Month: Inside Look: The Activity #5

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Inside Look is Broken Frontier's director’s commentary-like feature in which creators take you behind the scenes of one of their latest comics to hit the stands. In this edition, as part of our Image Month celebrations Nathan Edmondson talks about The Activity #5 by himself and artist Mitch Gerads.

Image introduced the first issue of the book on their site with this summary of the title’s premise:  “The evolution of global warfare necessitates the evolution of special forces to rise and meet the call. The U.S Army has therefore looked to its last secret special operations tribe, the INTELLIGENCE SUPPORT ACTIVITY, or Gray Fox. Within Gray Fox is a team of elite men and women whose mission is flexible, whose technology is bleeding edge, and whose execution is precise and lethal. They are Team Omaha, and they serve THE ACTIVITY.”

Welcome to THE ACTIVITY #5.

Page 1

We kick off this glimpse several pages into the issue, here, but to avoid spoilers, this ain't a bad place to start.  If you've been reading the series, you'll recognize here a young, uniformed WEATHERMAN, or Danny Locke, on this snowy mountainside, taking cover from mortar fire.  This is mid OPERATION ANACONDA, the infamous battle where everything went wrong, except of course the soldiers.  Except here, we learn of some faults in Locke's past.

The battle was a cluster****.  We get that in Mitch's art here.  Always modifying his style appropriately for the issues, the art in this one is rough, hectic, frantic.  And in this issue, the fan-hitting-s*** isn't isolated to Afghanistan in 2001.  We might have called this issue "S*** Hitting the Fan," in fact.  (I'm having fun sounding like a sergeant reaming his new recruits).

Page 2

Operation Anaconda was a multi-national endeavor, and Locke is bugging out.  You'll see we have wide panels here, with lots of empty space.  Confusing snow and debris.  Ever have those moments--maybe running from a spider, maybe trying to avoid a wreck in rush hour interstate traffic--where you just want to duck your head down and hope it all flies over you and you'll be fine? That's the feeling that Mitch achieves with these pages.


Page 3

And fast forward to the next year.  Anaconda did not go well, as you might have guessed.  Not for the United States, not for Danny Locke.  Here we've moved continents, but we maintain the precipitation to help us feel that while he's switched battlefields, he's not yet safe and sound.  Not his career anyway, not his reputation.

Page 4

Then we snap back to present day.  Where things don't seem to be going well for Danny, all over again, nor for his men, whom he has once again led astray.  Into the hands of the authorities in Thailand.  Caught with a cache of weapons, the team is interrogated in a dirty prison near the coast.

The precipitation is gone, but intriguingly, Mitch has kept some of the spotty, hectic texture, so that we still feel that same since of unsettled dread that we felt first on the hills of the Shahi-Kot valley.

Danny is close-lipped, and so are Switchfoot and Bookstore in the bottom two panels.  Ain't no one saying a word.  Surely, though, the Thais have ways of making them talk.

Page 5

Leslie, in the dark.  Speakeasy, stoic.  Bookstore, black-eyed.  And in the last panel, we see: things are about to get worse.

Not that we have the last two bubbles translated.  This is something we do rarely in THE ACTIVITY.  Using foreign language in dialogue has gotten mixed reactions from readers, but it's an important aspect to keeping the book as close to "real" as we are able.  Generally, when we use Spanish or Arabic or Chinese or whatever and we do not translate it, it is because the translation is less important than the effect of the encounter with another language.  The re-affirmation that this team has, for example, parachuted into another country.  That this book deals with global issues and international warfare.

Anyway, in this case, the dialogue is important.  So there you have it.

This is a snippet from our globe trotting, episodic, high-octane ONGOING series.  THE ACTIVITY is something new in comics and I'm ready to champion it.  I'm proud to say that for our attention to research and detail, we've earned the attention of the Special Forces and many members of the armed forces. Mitch and I are always happy to hear that we've gotten the details right.  Our job beyond that, however, is to make this exciting.  Cool.  Fun.  That's what we're working on, and as intense as these few pages are, overall the series is a non-stop thrill ride that we enjoy crafting every month.

Check out the trade in June.  Experience Creativity!  See us on twitter: @mitchgerads, @nhedmondson, @theactivity.

The Activity #5 is out this week from Image Comics priced $3.50.

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