Review – Electric Warriors #4: Love and War in the Arena

Comic Books DC This Week
Electric Warriors #4 cover, via DC Comics.

Electric Warriors #4 – Steve Orlando, Writer; Travel Foreman, Artist; Hi-Fi, Colorist

Ray – 8.5/10

Ray: Steve Orlando’s future-set high-stakes combat thriller Electric Warriors began as a more straightforward story about a galactic tournament that aims to end war by letting individual combatants represent their whole planet. But it’s turned into something even more interesting, as a small but elite group of participants begin to uncover that the whole thing is a sham orchestrated for the entertainment of sadistic galactic elites.

A rebellion is forming, but before they can overthrow the system they have to survive each other. The rebellion of Earthlings War Cry and Deep Dweller, Khund Serene, and their allies Dominator and Inceptor has begun putting together a plan, but they keep getting pulled away for high-stakes battles. Old grudges run deep, as we see in a battle between Dominator and a Threllian with long-standing bad blood against the Dominators. Dominator’s story of self-discovery and individual identity as a member of a “hive” species has been one of the highlights of this series.

While there are a lot of fight scenes in this series, Orlando and Foreman are able to keep things fresh. There’s a two-against-one battle as War Cry and Deep Dweller both face off against a massive Centaur warrior from Infernium. Through the battles, there’s a running plot of these warriors – some warlike by nature, some previously peaceful – being forced to make hard choices about when to end the lives of their opponents. It’s made more emotional by the connections we see the characters make along the way – especially Dominator and Inceptor. Electric Warriors #4 advances towards its tragic conclusion and the ruthless leadership strikes back against a member of the core team, it’s clear that the final act of this series is going to have some serious casualties. Orlando’s created a completely original cast of human and alien characters – and that means anything can happen. And that makes this series all the better.

Electric Warriors #4
Battle for Dominion. Via DC Comics. (The Dominator is one of the best characters in the book. Truly.)

Corrina: In many ways, this series reads like an independent SF series, something Image would publish and would get a ton of acclaim. It’s frustrating that this ambitious tale of warriors stuck between competing loyalties will likely get lost in the DC stable. It is drawing on obscure areas of the DC stable but the tone is very much science fiction, not superhero.

And, yes, I’ve gotten terribly invested in the fates of all the gladiators. I had thought the series would be about War Cry and how he would struggle to represent Earth and its humans and, yes, that’s part of that, but he’s finding out that this job is basically to survive and that, he knows how to do. It’s how to be a hero that he struggles with.

There are some light moments in the series, especially War Cry’s relationship with the Khund warrior, (Khunds are fun in the same way Klingons are), but they’re few and far between as what happens to gladiators after death is chilling.

The only niggle I have is understanding how this whole setup benefits the planets who send warriors to do battle on their behalf. It seemed to be a way to avoid war but it’s run by the elite of the galaxy and…I’m not sure the planets benefit. How are they enforcing this peace? (I think we’ll see that before the series is over.)

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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