Justin Jordan’s “Team 7” #5 spans five years, with a modern-day framing sequence drawn by JesÃºs Merino and the bulk of the issue set five years ago and drawn by Pascal Alixe. For now, the two tales seem separate and distinct, despite the shared characters, but I have no doubt there will be more to weave them together than simply common characters. The cliffhanger moment at the conclusion of this issue leaves some clues of what to expect, but the build-up hasn’t laid enough foundation for that gasp moment to truly pay off.
The framing sequence is mostly a conversation between Deathstroke and Lynch that broadcasts the two characters’ personalities and dispositions while cluing in readers to the two men’s abilities. It’s a tense scene, as any with Deathstroke should be, and it speaks well to Jordan’s comfort with these characters. The middle of the book loosens up the focus, covering the origins of cybernetic experimentation with a young Caitlin Fairchild working as an intern to Dr. Henry Henshaw. During the clips of interaction between Fairchild and Henshaw, reference is made to Silas Stone, which seeds developments and connections in the DC Universe that have yet to fully blossom. Henshaw’s appearance alone is a fun nod to pre-relaunch continuity, but tying in Stone and S.T.A.R. Labs illustrates Jordan’s dedication to integrate “Team 7” into the DC Universe more completely.
In that segment, Pascal Alixe’s art is detailed, stylized and clean, with a decidedly rough edge. Alixe pours detail into the figures and makes some visually engaging choices in laying out the page, sacrificing background detail in spots. This enables rough tonal color treatments from Nathan Erying and Hi-Fi to set the mood and draw upon readers’ emotions. It’s not the most dazzling visual solution, but it works wonderfully for the quieter moments in this story as Dinah Lance and Slade Wilson individually begin to question their roles with the team. Alixe’s focus on characters and foreground imagery is played to disgusting success with the results of the cybernetics testing gone rogue and the evidence of emerging metagenes around the world. The artist does make some decidedly cheesecakey posing and framing choices for Dinah, but not every female in this comic is rendered so objectively. For his part, Merino’s segments are gritty and grimy, soaked in shadow and smelling of blood. Merino has a great handle on Deathstroke and truly delivers the goods to hook readers right away.
While “Team 7” is a dead title still being printed, there are stories to be told, secrets to be exposed and worlds to be built. The connections — even if just in name — that Jordan sews into this story are geek-worthy, fist-pumping moments. There are only a few issues left, but if they all add threads to the larger DC Universe tapestry like “Team 7” #5 does, then I’ll be enjoying quite a few reads.