Helios: Under the Gun #3


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Helios: Under the Gun #3


  • Words: Jason Rand
  • Art: Andres Guinaldo
  • Inks: Kwang-young Hyun
  • Colors: Transparency Digital
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Publisher: Dakuwaka Publishing
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Apr 11, 2007

In the penultimate chapter to Helios’ first twelve-issue arc, everything comes crashing together, Project Pegasus is revealed, and a final battle definitely cometh.

After the extraordinary action and character-arc climaxes as seen in Helios: Under the Gun #2, this third issue is a far calmer experience, though largely due to calm-before-the-storm syndrome. In fact, this latest issue is nearly a poor offering inside of an otherwise stellar two-year run: there’s none of the nail-biting build-up or character minutiae of past chapters, substituted with numerous, necessary plot-dominoes that need to fall into place for what’s to come. And the sole major event that does take place is a bizarrely unaffecting one. In a nutshell, the original team of now-AWOL neogenics (super-humans) at last crack the mystery of "Project Pegasus" and launch an assault upon its premises. Unfortunately, the revelation isn’t an unforeseen one (though writer Jason Rand tries to milk it for what it’s worth), and the assault occurs at relatively hell-for-leather speed, seemingly over as quickly as begun. It’s not boring, but neither does it thrill.

The good news is that Rand is yet superb in his setting-up the book’s overarching plot and while this issue isn’t in and of itself as superlative as those before, it does set-up the story for the series’ first major climax, which is meant to come about in the very next issue. The story suffers for being a major event (said assault on Pegasus) while likewise trying to put into place all the pieces that will be needed for the grand finale to come, which prompts the story to read as dramatically frantic, frenetic, and definitely important, though also at a (perhaps unavoidably) rushed, too-swift pace. The assault seems far too short, even though two-thirds of the issue is focused upon it, and I ultimately found myself torn between dissatisfaction and an eagerness for the next chapter when finished. So a stellar set-up, but little more besides: a somewhat disappointing issue in stand-alone merit.

New series artist Andres Guinaldo (also of Dakuwaka’s Purity fame) continues to make his mark on the book, and honestly I almost forgot that he was the new guy. Gabe Pena was fantastic, but Guinaldo has a detailed style redolent of Juan Jose Ryp (Frank Miller’s Robocop), with detailed, busy backgrounds, distinctive characters, and plenty of rubble, flames, and assorted destruction during the more action-packed sequences. He still has areas in need of growth and polish – often I find his characters’ postures uniformly awkward and slumped (they all resemble squat, angry Wolverines) – though largely his sequences are extremely readable, and readily enjoyable.

Helios is a small press title whose obvious quality can be seen from the cover alone – it stands out on the shelves, and a brief flip through its pages cements the idea that it’s a book of Image-level quality in production and design; any who then read through its pages quickly discover that its content proves even better. While Under the Gun #3 may be a bit unsatisfying for a Helios issue, that still places it at he tip-top of any discerning reader’s weekly pile. And it looks that the best is indeed yet to come: issue 4 ought to be a welcome, fulfilling payoff for all those who’ve followed this epic over the past couple of years. For those reading this who haven’t checked Helios out, it looks like a perfect time to do so as it’s all coming to a crescendo, so start hounding your local store for graphic novels and back issue copies now!

Or, alternately, for all the information you could possibly desire on Helios and other Dakuwaka titles, visit www.dakuwaka.com

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