“24” fans know full well that Jack is back in the resurrected real-time FOX political drama, but in addition to “24: Live Another Day” on television, Jack Bauer is also back in the comics. “24: Underground” #2 by Ed Brisson and Michael Gaydos is the latest issue of this miniseries that takes place in between the original series finale a few years ago and the events of the current twelve-episode follow-up. In this story, Jack has fled the U.S. and is now lying low in Ukraine, under an assumed alias but living relatively happily with his girlfriend Sofiya.
As anyone who’s ever watched the show knows, though, things never stay very happy for Jack Bauer. When the Russian mob sets their sights on Sofiya’s brother Petro for payment on her other brother’s debts, Jack steps up to try and save them from the mob’s threats, but his cover is blown when the head gangster recognizes him as a former U.S. government agent. All the while, Jack’s actions has drawn the attention of the CIA he’s hiding from.
Every single element of Brisson’s story is ripped right from the “24” playbook, with such a faithful interpretation that it reads like an unaired episode of the TV series. Yet there are new elements as well; the setting in Ukraine, for one, but also Jack having a close and somewhat normal relationship, something that hasn’t really happened since the show’s first season. The layered tension that comes with the show is also there; Jack is evading both the mob and the feds, all while trying to keep the truth about his past from those currently closest to him. The dialogue is faithful to the spirit of the show as well, to the point where it’s all but impossible not to hear Kiefer Sutherland’s voice when reading it.
Gaydos is a great artist for this story; the shadowy, grimy look that typifies his work is well-suited for the typically shadowy underworld that Jack Bauer always gets dragged back into. Like Brisson’s story, his panels almost look like they could serve as detailed storyboards for an episode of the show. He nails Sutherland’s likeness, and some panels would be right at home as promotional images for the series. The only noticeable weaknesses are some of the action sequences; an early encounter between Jack and the mobsters is a bit difficult to follow, as it’s not all that apparent that Jack even made a move before the fists start flying and the guns start shooting.
Brisson and Gaydos handle translating the real-time nature of the series the way past creative teams have: they ignore it, knowing that there’s no way to capture this hook in a sequential art format. So there are no digital time displays interspersed throughout the story, as they aren’t really necessary, and would seem like a contrived annoyance if they were included. The feel of the show is superbly captured as it stands, and “24: Underground” #2 is a great supplement for those who are thrilled that Jack is back on television, but don’t find it to be enough.