THIS REVIEW OF ‘ELECTRIC WARRIORS’ #6 CONTAINS SPOILERS.
by Clyde Hall. When Electric Warriors began, it’s jib was cut very much from the same sails that ferried The Hunger Games. It was easy to look past similarities because Steve Orlando rooted his storyline deep into DC’s cosmic and future continuities. He filled it with Saturnians, Khunds, Dominators, and a few humans as well. Then he layered on other influences: A Strikeforce: Morituri mindset dealing with empowered warriors not long for this mortal coil. Games of Gingold grain and circuses. A side note of Donner Party Delicatessen.
Combined, they forge a DCU future vision to bridge the 21st and 31st Centuries in a manner never attempted previous. The final issue ships this week, and it resonates as a fitting completion to a memorable series.
Issue #5 revealed that intergalactic peace, founded on a Great Compromise in which gladiators battle each other for their world’s food supplies, territory, and vaccines, was actually a Pax Lex engineered by an immortal Luthor. He explains how his New Worlds Order was established, and it’s a beautiful, believable, elegantly amoral scheme worthy of his genius. His flashback isn’t just villainous monologuing; backed by his intellect and the power of Firestorm the Nuclear Man, he has nothing to fear from the Electric Warriors confronting him. To strengthen already overwhelming odds, and as vengeance against the human who dared upset his galaxy-spanning applecart, Luthor’s pitted brother against brother. He enables an empowered Oscar Navarro to combat Ian, the sibling that took his place in the games.
As a student of history who established his Great Compromise to take advantage of patterns in empires’ ascents and declines, Lex forgets one vital historical element: The past repeats itself. Just as honor, truth, and heroism have undone him before, the Warriors endeavor to serve Luthor fresh helpings as a reminder.
Orlando sweetens his finale with moments of earned camaraderie for the heroes, and smirk-worthy punishments for the guilty. The journey’s been one of sacrifice and heartbreak, but the payoff makes it a worthwhile trek. Handled by a lesser writer, the relationships formed might have felt contrived, the characters merely stereotypes of a gladiator story set in space. Orlando uses those frameworks but expands on them all with raw materials from DC’s annals. His turns of phrase often ring iconic, interspersed with injections of humor in a comfortable, contrasting rhythm that works. It may also mark the only time Luthor’s been referred to as “The Bald Phallic One”.
The final act plays hard and fast, and certain developments in previous issues were done with similar economy. This may have lessened the emotional impacts, and some readers could find investment in the storyline more difficult overall. Having a few additional issues, expanding to a series of 8 or even 10 entries, would have accommodated Orlando’s narrative even better.
Throughout the series, the semblance of this DC future was unique and issue #6 makes no exception. This is owed to the talent of artist Travel Foreman. Sure, he made established alien races recognizable for the most part, but the empowering process used in Electric Warriors allowed him to play on a larger and more impressive palette which he filled to overflowing. He created entirely new, entirely alien, entities to populate this book with xenological verve.
When it comes to the impressive manner that powers are rendered in the final issue, and again throughout the series, I’m not sure who to blame. I’ll just credit both Foreman and colorist Hi-Fi. Their spaceflight glows, their energy-based attacks radiate almost free of the page. Normal backlighting for action sequences or personal reflections, isn’t. Have we seen such things done before? Yes. But it’s rare we witness it done this well and so consistently.
Travis Lanham’s letters add to those elements with appropriate sound effect punctuation, but even more impressive is his representations of differing alien voices through formula and fonts. The cast is largely extraterrestrial, making for Babylon towers of articulation. Yet as represented in Lanham’s work, it never confuses; you know exactly which character is speaking, and when. In a typical issue, that’s only to be expected. But as you may be deciding, little of this series or the final issue stands on routine.
If DC is looking for something mature and divergent for an animated treatment, adapting Electric Warriors should top their proposals list. It’s uncertain how well the series’ visuals would be handled, but I’d love to see it attempted. The story? It’s a tale of once-great galactic civilizations fighting over scraps for the pleasure of wealthy worlds on the rise. A story of honor, of diversity, and of family. A hero’s journey by flawed individuals outmatched but unbowed. A series that deserves to be read by those waiting for the Legion to live long once again.
DC / $3.99
Written by Steve Orlando.
Art by Travel Foreman.
Colors by Hi-Fi.
Letters by Travis Lanham.
7.5 out of 10
Check out this 5-page preview of ‘Electric Warriors’ #6, courtesy of DC!