Larry flies to the North Pole with the One and meets the more human half of the being. On the way, the One and Larry meet one half of America’s superhuman team. Egypt sees the darkest depths of Jay-Hole’s selfishness and his infection with the Other. Gob continues to rampage through Moscow, and Premiere Kubalov tries to direct this fury towards the United States. Gob proves difficult to convince.
The One continues its psychedelic exploration through its own wild world with an oddly optimistic and upbeat issue. This story was sold to me as a proto-Watchmen, and the subtitle is The Last Word on Superheroes. While I do love superheroes (as any follower of my writing can attest), I’m always open to compelling deconstructions of the genre. There are still two issues with which Rick Veitch can bring this home, but this installment does leave me wondering where it’s going from here.
It goes without saying that not every superhero deconstruction needs to be the Watchmen. Mark Gruenwald and John Buescema’s Squadron Supreme and Mark Waid and Alex Ross’s Kingdom Come are similarly brilliant analyses of the form that are less cynical than Moore and Gibbons’s masterpiece. The One seems to be of the opinion that superhumans aren’t inherently terrible; it’s only when they’re weaponized and used as war machines that problems would arise.
I feel like I’m coming off like I didn’t like this issue; I enjoyed it a lot. A lot happened in this installment. The confrontation between Gob and Kubalov was both exciting and tense. Doc Benway has a surprisingly upbeat and enjoyable monologue about the Summer of Love and the hippies being proven right.
The One’s tendency towards disconnected psychedelic storytelling, the periodic talking-head segments, and the One itself, who seems to be a peaceful creature, combine to create this less grim and nihilistic realm than some the story’s contemporaries. It’s significantly less grounded than the others too, though I wouldn’t necessarily call Kingdom Come or Squadron Supreme especially grounded.
Veitch’s artwork is also a weird mixture of realistic and caricature that creates an ugly world to which it is difficult to feel especially attached. It doesn’t look bad, and the visual identity is unique. The ugliness adds to the surreal nature and the darker aspects of the narrative. Plus, Kirby Veitch‘s severe color work gives another psychedelic touch to the comic
The One #3 is a bizarre installment that shows how creative and weirdly compelling the story can be. It’s hard to get past its surrealist barrier to feel especially attached to many of the characters, but the characters are unique and layered. Plus, the narrative is grabbing on many levels. This one gets a recommendation and should be an interesting talking point for those who didn’t read the original run. Check it out.
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