"DC Universe Presents" seems to be set up as a testing ground for characters and concepts in this relaunched DC Universe. After five issues of Deadman, the focus in this issue turns to the Challengers of the Unknown in "DC Universe Presents" #6 by Dan DiDio and Jerry Ordway.
The story bounces all over the place with the premise of a reality show gone horribly awry. DiDio and Ordway pack a lot into this issue, including a full cast of characters not properly introduced. We're given more of an introduction to June Robbins, host of the "Challengers" show, than most of the other characters. Those poor souls are assigned monikers (but little more) all too familiar to longtime "Challengers" readers as the story caroms between an ill-fated plane, Nanda Parbat and an attack from a gigantic snow monster. It's as though DiDio and Ordway either wanted to pay tribute to everything the "Challengers" brand stands for or simply couldn't decide what would serve this story best.
Jerry Ordway's usually refined art trends towards sensationalist imagery in this issue. More than once, June Robbins is depicted in a revealing top or her bra with her shirt irreparably torn open. There are also a number of stabbings with blood spewing forth like puss from a freshly popped zit. Ordway's best work in this issue is in the first two pages -- but the appearance of the snow monster is less impactful than I've come to expect from the artist and having a trio of inkers chip in on twenty pages of story doesn't help visual consistency.
The cover of this issue is wonderfully promising but the story inside just doesn't measure up. The "Challengers" name and high concept definitely has legs -- especially framed within the almost-cliched reality TV setting -- but this first issue is disappointing. The lack of proper introductions does nothing to endear any of the characters to the reader, perhaps save for June, whose treatment throughout is equally disappointing. Hopefully DiDio and Ordway have gotten the jitters out of their system and can focus on delivering a more impactful installment next month. If it's anything like this one, "DC Universe Presents" will be facing a challenge to attract -- or even keep -- readers.