This is a heck of a thick book, and priced as such. Readers buying comics by the word or by the panel will feel that they got their money's worth. Unfortunately, what starts off with a dramatic flair, and quite literally a bang, suffers under the weight of explanation in the middle of this first issue.
Palmiotti and Gray give us a tale about the Nazi's wunderwaffen, their weapon to ensure final victory. That weapon is triggered by a group of investigators from the New World Order -- no, not the wrestling group. A drilling venture falls through while attempting to establish communications with a previous group. As a rescue and recovery team is sent it, a discovery is made of what lies beneath: a secret underground fortress, bedazzled with Nazi swastikas.
The recovery team unwittingly unleashes what appears to be a super-weapon, left behind by the Nazis. This weapon blazes a trail of death and destruction, and spews forth a mysterious virus that engulfs, destroys and converts the victims into the virus itself. Makes for a pretty bad day at the office.
After the initial outburst, Gray and Palmiotti throw in a dig at George W. Bush and also slow the story down with an incredibly long explanation of how things are going to get fixed, at least in theory. Borrowing a little from "Quantum Leap," a bit from "Captain Atom," and a little from any zombie flick, this story has potential, but the explanation does slow down the groove that this issue hit very early on. Once the Time Bomb is explained, things pick up again as our quartet of intrepid protagonists are hurled to their fate.
The protagonists of the story are introduced before all hell breaks loose, but they are not all introduced equally. Jack McCrea serves as the team leader and resident wise-ass. Peggy Medina appears to serve in some sort of scientific capacity and her in-process-of-becoming-ex-husband, Christian, is onboard too. The fourth member of the squad, a fellow by the name of Ken Wein-something shoots a woman he spends the night with and then heads off to join this team in action. Like I said, they're not all introduced evenly. Perhaps in the next issue, we'll learn the specialties of this time-tossed A-team.
Gulacy's art is standard issue Paul Gulacy: his women are sassy and sexy, his men are strong and debonair, and his backgrounds are detailed to capacity. The visual component of this issue is quite full. It is nice to see Gulacy back at work though, and a story such as this, featuring "real" people is perfectly suited to his abilities. There are spots that are a little too jammed, but I'd rather have too much visual information in a comic than not enough.
It's a fun divergence as comics go -- a snappily-paced action adventure story set against a science fiction background, but it has some hiccups. As I mentioned earlier, this book runs pretty dry in the middle of the book when comic book science fiction theory gets explained, but the pacing and action before and after more than make up for any slowness this story incurs. After the explanation and set-up of this issue, there is certain to be a more brisk pace in the next issue as the quartet find themselves facing a most unexpected foe.