Commanders in Crisis Issue 8 Review: Is That a Plan I See Forming?

Commanders in Crisis Issue 8
From ‘Commanders in Crisis’ Issue 8 (Orlando/Thornhill/Tinto)

After a couple of moody issues chock full of exposition, Commanders in Crisis Issue 8 has taken a distinct turn. Building off last issue’s momentum, we’re starting to see a plan forming… but will it come together in time?

I was provided with a free digital copy of Commanders in Crisis Issue 8 for review. The opinions I have shared are my own.

Starting a whole superhero universe in medias res was a bold choice that has so far been paying off for creators Steve Orlando and Davide Tinto (joined by L.A. Thornhill, who created American Dreamer with Tinto). The last couple issues of Commanders In Crisis took some time to fill us in on how the universe works and why people have the motivations they do. There was a little progression of the main plot, but Issue 6 and 7 felt like a pause for worldbuilding and emotional processing. Commanders in Crisis Issue 8 signals a turn back to focusing on the apocalypse at hand. 

I have complicated feelings about the first page where America passing the American Individuality Act inspires the rest of the world to begin working on similar legislation. On one hand, I’m not a fan of the “where America leads, the world follows” line. It feels too much like the smug kind of propaganda.

On the other, the Trump era showed us that when a Hollywood country sours it can send ripples of discord out into the world. Like it or not, this is something that happens. I’m not comfortable with it… but then, this whole comic has a way of pointing out uncomfortable truths. It’s a thing. 

Something else the comic is known for is dropping new superheroes and villains in and explaining them as we go. American Dreamer is introduced that way. I had a great time watching him and Prizefighter fill the pages of this issue with action. Prizefighter really needed a big punchy friend to brawl around with, especially since he’s not talking to Nina in her power suit. 

American Dreamer seems to have a good head on his shoulders, even if his initial challenge of Prizefighter feels a little xenophobic. (I mean, COME ON! The Commanders have been non-stop fighting for your world since you met them, my dude. What agenda do you think they have?)

My one complaint about AD is that I’m not super clear on what his powerset is. He’s obviously strong and a great fighter, but what’s up with those magnetic fields? Does the device from his mysterious friend generate them? And how does he feel sadness? Was his original power before the high-tech defibrillator some kind of empathy-related thing? Because that would be seriously handy right now.

I hope we get some more clarity on him, especially if he has a larger role to play in the arc’s endgame. It sure looks that way. 

commanders in crisis issue 8
I wanted to show the panel where H. Erectus meets Civilization, but I chose something I wouldn’t have to censor. Man, Davide Tinto put together an incredible splash page. 

Nina, rejected by her friends (and you may remember how I feel about that), is still hard at work saving the world. She spent last issue hanging out with Thunder Woman in the Lightning World. Commanders In Crisis Issue 8 has her chasing a hunch to the Pleistocene, where a band of homo erectus is about to discover how to make fire.

I was expecting some other of Thunder Woman’s kin- maybe whoever handles Invention or Curiosity. Seeing Civilization make that all-important first contact with people was a surprise. Also? Pretty sweet aesthetic. I’d love to meet more people from Lightning World since the ones we’ve seen are pretty cool. 

We probably will, actually. Nina and Thunder Woman discovered that connecting with an Idea is a two-way street. Humans have to reach out with action before the Lightning World denizens can make contact.

I’m fully down with the idea of “gods” and people having a synergistic relationship; it makes more sense to me than any other arrangement. It also plays into the personal responsibility theme that runs through the comic. Heroes can offer help, but if everyday people don’t take it things won’t work out.

That sentiment is hanging over our heads as Commanders In Crisis Issue 8 closes. Sawbones, Originator, and Seer were kind of background this issue. We only see them in the final pages eating some tasty-looking… uhhh… sandwiches from a… pot? (Seriously what are they eating? It looks like a wrap but then it’s a sandwich with lettuce in later panels?)

Prizefighter drops in to chow down and relay everything he learned from American Dreamer and the Hate Fight. It seems to boil down to “We can punch the Extinction Society but we can’t punch the world’s lack of empathy, so we need to get the locals on board here.”

That’s half of what Nina has to share when she makes her appearance in the last panel, all cool with her shiny new bident. The other half is that they themselves have to redefine their own roles if they want to succeed. I’m assuming they have to find a way to inspire the residents of this earth to reach out for Empathy, or whatever will replace him. Maybe I’m wrong, that’s just what I’m reading between the lines.

What does this mean for the series moving forward? I was hoping this would be more than a single run, but if they stop being Commanders, will the title need to change? Will the other superheroes that keep coming out of the woodworks start calling themselves Commanders?

I don’t know. What I do know is, I’m interested to find out what the Commanders are going to do to get people to revive Empathy. 

Last thoughts:

  • Evil Nina is a riot. I love that she only trusts herself, so she commissioned FanFic versions of herself from Headcanon as backup.
  • Don’t think I didn’t notice that when Thunder Woman and Nina look at the world from the moon, Africa is the main continent visible. *chef’s kiss*
  • We’ve gotten more full-frontal male nudity than female. All the nudity is story-relevant and not exploitative. I am HERE for this.
  • I can’t get the food out of my mind. I swear it looked like some kind of meat pita, then suddenly they’re all eating subs with lettuce. I’m losing sleep over this, y’all. 
  • When the Commanders hear Nina on the intercom and run to find her, Prizefighter has a grin on his face. I knew he missed her! Seer seems a little guilty, so maybe she also feels bad about how they all cut her out Mean Girls style.
  • I want to print all this art onto bedsheets so I can roll around in it. It’s absolutely stunning.

What did you think of Commanders in Crisis Issue 8?

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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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