Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Programme Vol. 2 Trade Paperback Review

The Programme Vol. 2
DC Comics - Wildstorm
Softcover Trade Paperback
144 pages
$17.99 (2008)
ISBN 9781401219987

Contributors: Peter Milligan, CP Smith, and Pat Brosseau

Reprints: The Programme #7-12 (of 12)

Synopsis: A group of Soviet superhumans awaken in the modern day to wreak havoc upon the world.  They were derived from failed US experiments thirty years earlier.  The CIA attempts to coerce their sleeper superman into fighting the Cold War monsters, but a rogue scientist altered his programming toward liberal tendencies and he mistrusts the government.

Your Soviet superheroes
The Soviet super killers descend upon Las Vegas, the bastion of capitalism, like locusts and destroy everything in sight.  Growing more desperate the government reawakens Senator Joe, a black superhuman brainwashed to believe he is Senator Joe McCarthy, the extreme anti-communist.

Somehow he is able to convince Max to fight against the Soviets, but they are overwhelmed in battle due to a lack of conviction.  Meanwhile a race war is brewing in the southern US as unease over the Talibstan events back at home spiral out of control.  Senator Joe is roughly awakened from his programming and defects.

 Now Max is the only hope of the US against the resurrected Cold War superhumans.  He lacks sufficient belief in his cause to be truly effective and the CIA attempts a last ditch ploy to revert his programming back to unquestioning loyalty.  Can they repress his morality and force him to do their bidding?  Failure means the death of capitalism and society as we know it.  What about the corrupt CIA operatives angling for a coup to seize control of the US in the wake of destruction?

Pros: Complex plot with many twists and turns, mature/interesting superhuman concept, dark storyline, decent ending

Cons: The race war seemed forced and a bit implausible, art is too murky and dark

Mike Tells It Straight: Milligan finishes his deconstructed superhero epic The Programme.  The finale was suitably grand with a fair amount of plot twists and comeuppances.  Race war section felt forced and art (now with CP Smith doing colors too) became even less coherent/murky - detracted from the experience.  Maybe if Smith were inked by someone else it would have worked better.  

I felt the story was  entertaining, but lacked any true addition to the core concepts.  Milligan just polishes and puts his own spin on them.  Good if you like conspiracy theories and slightly more realistic superhuman battles. Okay effort and a lukewarm recommendation.

TO BUY and Recommendations: