‘Commanders In Crisis’ Issue 5: Finally, Some Space To Process (Also Evil Hearts In Jars??)

Commanders in Crisis Issue 5

Although Commanders In Crisis Issue 5 isn’t lacking in action, the pacing and mood make it feel like we’re taking a moment to reflect. That’s pretty critical, given that we have a lot to reflect on (even before several big plot points dropped this issue). I’m a lot happier with the pacing here than I was last issue.

I received a free digital copy of Commanders In Crisis Issue 5 for review. The opinions are my own. 

Commanders in Crisis Issue 5 fixes something I found frustrating last issue: pacing. I felt like Issue 4- especially the parts surrounding the Concept Killer’s killing and Executrix’s Big Reveal- was crowded and hard to handle. This issue goes back to the steady pacing in the previous books: action mixed with moments of conversation or reflection to give us time to process what’s happening. 

A lot is happening, too. Think about the major plot points that dropped in Commanders In Crisis Issue 5. First off, it’s been a full week of dead empathy, though some people are feeling the effects sooner than others. The team is still working on their own, or in pairs, but are all no-contact with Nina. They didn’t even show up to help bury Simon (John Doe Empathy). 

Commanders In Crisis Issue 5
These guys really are just icing Nina out. Wow. Empathy is dead but logic isn’t. Are they not letting another superhero help out of spite? Or is it a trust issue?

I admit, I’m struggling a little bit with the team’s actions here. It fits with the storyline, because empathy is dead. It’s just hard to watch superheroes behave so callously. It’s also relevant that Nina’s Big Secret was a big one, but these people had been working together for years. Are they really going to face a world-ending crisis in a weaker, less effective state because they can’t sit down and talk this out like grown-ups?

I guess so. Nina texts everyone the last little secret she had hanging on, and only Sawbones even answered to tell her to go away. 

Meanwhile, the American Individuality Act is close to passing, and Nelson is already planning a mutual secession act to follow. This made me roll my eyes. Mutual secession is not how the government works. Congress doesn’t have that power. Unless literally every nation agreed to it, what would happen is that some states would secede and immediately be tiny nations surrounded by a small United States.

Everyone would be super angry about needing passports to visit their relatives or go to Disneyworld. I mean guys, just look at Brexit. This would not go well even if it passed. 

Several pages of Commanders In Crisis Issue 5 are pretty steamy. Ignacio and Scarlet (AKA Sawbones and Seer) are having tantric superpower-combining sexytimes. I didn’t know they had a thing, but they reference having wanted to try this for a while. This may or may not have plot uses later- but it might also just be a nice interlude. We shall see.

We get a weird interlude where Executrix (you know, Evil From-this-Earth Nina) is growing hearts in jars. Apparently, they are going to have bone matrixes grown around them for… reasons?? Are these going to become giant heart monsters, because I am DOWN. I love a good weird monstrous henchman. It’s one of my favorite parts of comics, where a villain gets SO EXTRA they need trademarked monsters. 

I’m not sure what’s happening with Executrix and the green misty tube. Does she need some kind of treatment? Is she feeding the brains somehow? Is it a power boost? Looking forward to seeing where that goes as well.

The whole scene where Originator takes out the Social Callers single-handedly is very cool. She has probably the most OP power in the group, and I enjoyed seeing her stroll in and essentially one-shot a whole group of enemies. Not sure how they’ll keep those guys locked up, though. Signal-blocked containment cell?

Those are all just the major plot points in Commanders In Crisis Issue 5. I haven’t even addressed the one-off incident Prizefighter stops, where an evil “Fatalgorithm” that hired a bunch of assassins to re-enact storylines. Though we haven’t seen much like it before, it does touch on a theme we’ve seen throughout this whole comic: humanity being too reliant on technology and too ready to pass off their responsibilities to tech. 

I’m not a technophobe. I think responsible, ethical technological advancement can bring us all up to a comfortable living standard- but I’m not so naïve that I think the people driving that technology have our best interests in mind. The comic makes a good point that we need to be aware of what we’re giving up or trading away to use our everyday tech. 

I don’t think being online causes a disconnect, though. Dr. Casey Fiesler (AKA ProfessorCasey over on TikTok) talks about the idea of a Third Place between work and home where community is built, and how the internet has increasingly become that place for a lot of people. For the first time in history, we’re able to connect with people based mainly on interests and worldview, not geography. That’s really special. Like everything, we just need to use it responsibly. 

'Commanders In Crisis' Issue 5
I want to have a drink with Senator Tracy. She looks like a lot of fun.

Something I deeply love in this story is how the creators weave in relevant social commentary through the art. For example, I don’t think it’s a coincidence of design that the Senators pushing for divisive policies (and even secession) are polished upper-class white people while the voice of reason, Senator Tracy, is a muscular woman of color with one arm.

Is it a wee bit heavy-handed? Yes, but also no. This is comics, where everything is larger than life. 

As the issue comes to a close, it seems like Executrix might be planning a strike against the scattered Commanders. Not great, since they’re not in much contact with each other. 

Side note, I want to go on record as being pretty sure that the reporter Prizefighter is dating is part of the Evil Death Cult. That guy is way too pushy.

I don’t want to spend too much time on Executrix’s evil plans, however, because FINALLY Thunder Woman has shown up! Does she look like Scarlet Witch and Loki’s love child? Yes, but she’s rocking it. I’m just really jazzed to meet her after all the hints. She calls Empathy her kin, which I hope means she is the embodiment of Thunder or some kind of cosmic force, not just someone who throws thunder. 

We’ll see next time! Right now, drop to the comments and let us know what you thought about Commanders In Crisis Issue 5!

Author: Khai

Khai is a writer, anthropologist, and games enthusiast. She is co-editor (alongside Alex DeCampi) of and contributor to “True War Stories”, a comic anthology published by Z2 Comics. When she’s not writing or creating games, Khai likes to run more tabletop RPGs than one person should reasonably juggle.

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