Review – Electric Warriors #5: Showdown in the Arena

Electric Warriors #5 cover, via DC Comics.

Electric Warriors #5 – Steve Orlando, Writer; Travel Foreman, Javier Fernandez, Artists; Richard Friend, Inker; Hi-Fi, Colorist

Ratings:

Ray – 8.5/10

Corrina: The Villain Revealed

Ray: Can we talk about just how deep Steve Orlando went into DC continuity for Electric Warriors, his thrilling futuristic gladiator thriller? I certainly never thought I’d see Scorn, a much-mocked character from the 1990s weekly Superman run again, but here he (or at least someone from his planet) is fighting for his planet’s right to a unique vaccine against a volcano-warrior from Saturn. That sentence perfectly sums up the no-holds-barred tone of this series, as the ongoing gladiator tournament evolves into a revolution. Earthlings War Cry and Deep Dweller, along with their allies from the Khund and Dominator species, are mourning the loss of their friend Inceptor. Although they’re grieving, they have evidence of the conspiracy that drives the entire tournament – to turn the bodies of the dead aliens over for study and harvesting. Realizing they’re pawns in a bigger plan, they’ve gone from fighting each other to putting their eyes on the true enemy.

That would be Lord Preceptor, a smug overseer who has mostly lurked in the background for this series. That changes this issue when one of the battles is interrupted by the rebellion, using War Cry’s sonic powers to command the arena’s attention. As they expose the truth, Lord Preceptor – who is revealed to have the powers of an iconic DC hero – attempts to shift the battle by exposing War Cry’s own deception. I was dreading that this would be when his allies turned on him, but thankfully they have their eyes on the bigger prize. The reveal of Lord Preceptor’s true identity – or rather, identities – is a great twist, and the final scene of the issue sets up one last conflict that’s been brewing since the first issue. This series has slid completely under the radar, but like many of Orlando’s works, it’s a hidden gem that makes great use of DC continuity and history.

Meeting of evil. Via DC Comics.

Corrina: The reveal of the ultimate villain here is cool.

Everything to do with the different species of gladiators, from the Khunds to the Dominators, to Deep Dweller, has been amazing, with War Cry being the least interesting of all of them, though, this issue, his past comes back to bite him. It’s hard to extoll truth when your existence in the tournament is built on a lie.

Ray talked about Orlando’s deep dives into the DC Universe but I want to talk about how the images throughout the series have created an entire world. The art team has had to handle everything from the epic in the battles, to the intimate conversation and encounters between the warriors, to the grotesque reveal of what happens to the dead gladiators, and then to this issue’s epic moment where the truth is revealed but not all can see it.

Where the story remains a bit murky is the worldbuilding. I’m not sure I understand why the warriors’ bodies are such assets or how that is connected to all the worlds’ agreeing to decide who gets what by what happens in the arena. Hopefully, this will all be revealed before the series concludes.

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

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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