Written by Serge Lehman, Fabrice Colin | Art by Gess | Published by Titan Comics
The Chimera Brigade, so far, has been a little schizophrenic in that it has consistently been gorgeous to look at, but lacking anything of substance in terms of consistent story and plot when scrutinised too closely. There are plenty of fine ideas floating around, ones that a writer like Alan Moore could hit several home runs with, but focusing those characters and stories into a coherent story seems to be a struggle for Lehman and Colin, the co-writers. A major problem is that it is too ‘busy’, literally bursting at the seams with characters and scenarios, but not doing justice to any.
Last issue saw a lot of pieces being put into position, with The Eye, George Spad, and Dr Severac (known as The Broken Man) playing the major roles. The Radium Institute ( who seem to be the good guys, carrying on the work of Marie Curie) has also failed in its attempt to get ‘We’, the Russian robot army collective, to side with it in the imminent conflict with Dr Missbrauch, currently busy creating a superhuman only state in Europe. With their backs against the wall, Irene Curie is overjoyed to receive a visit from Dr Severac, a close friend of her mothers who has been in a coma for 16 years. Dr Severac wants to know exactly who, or what, is the Chimera Brigade.
A legend, according to Irene. During the First World War, Marie Curie was said to be guarded by this Brigade, made up of a giant bear (The Brown Baron), a ghostly nurse (Matricia), an archangel (The Unknown Soldier), even a skeleton man (Doctor Serum). No-one could quite separate fact from fiction, and they drifted into legend. All very interesting to Dr Severac, as the Chimera Brigade’s appearances coincide with the dates of his coma. Not only that, but the individual characters of the Brigade also directly match the four symbols of the Severac coat-of-arms, symbols that Severac repeatedly dreams about. So what exactly happened to him during those coma years?
Just as this meeting is getting to the bottom of things, The Elastic Man attacks the Institute. Able to grown to huge heights, he starts laying waste to surrounding buildings. Irene suddenly realises something. She realises that a camera her mother used on Severac may have been involved in his treatment; she uses it on him, and he splits into the four separate personas of The Chimera Brigade. Well, I never saw that coming. They fight and defeat The Elastic Man, before reforming as Severac. His codename of The Broken Man now makes a whole lot of sense, and Dr Severac now remembers everything. Just as we digest that little nugget, we cut to a little end scene that show The Eye, technically a hero but no friend of The Institute, making bargains that could have very bad consequences down the road.
This issue was a good read, addressing some of those problems I have been having with the book. This read very well, a manageable group of characters, a story arc that was defined and clear and took the story somewhere, and exposition that filled in some holes and opened others. The art, need I say it, was as good as ever. Lots of small panels delivering short, snappy visual chunks that suit the story well. How Gess accommodates all that text as well I’ll never know. The Elastic Man full page panel was a nice touch too, showing Gess can cut loose when he’s able to.
Finally, an issue where story and art both work really well. Admittedly, it was mainly because many of the characters were sidelined, but still, very nice indeed.
The issue I have been waiting for.
The Chimera Brigade #4 is out now from Titan Comics.