Helios #3
Written by Jason Rand
Drawn by Gabe Pena
Published by Dakuwaka Productions; $2.99 USD

Helios chronicles the adventures of the Neogenics Task Force, of which there are currently only three members; Sunstrike, FaÁade and blur. Issue #3 picks up with Sunstrike testing out some newfound powers after accidentally killing a man, FaÁade being questioned about the events which led to that murder, and Blur being released from the hospital after her encounter with a neogenic named Hate in issue #1. The issue opens with a nice little two-story-lines-at-once sequence of panels, showing us the exploration of Jasonís (Sunstrike) powers as well as Kyleís (FaÁade) debriefing. The two things play against each other fairly well.

The stuff with Jason is reminiscent of Peter Parkerís discovery of his powers in Sam Raimiís Spider-Man film. Free spirited and fun, but taking place in nature as opposed to the city, which show tremendous responsibility as well as fear on Jasonís part. He doesnít want to be around anything he could hurt or kill after the events of last issue, and he also doesnít want anyone to see him cut loose and tap into his full potential. The possible reasons behind that become obvious as we read between the two sections of panels.

Kyle revealing to his superior that he has doubts about Jasonís commitment to the team is obviously set-up for further strife within the group, but the characters and dialogue are believable enough so that it does not come off as hokey or pushy. It feels like a natural flow of the story.

Ditto for Ashley/Blurís release from the hospital as well as her conversation with Colonel Shiels. Rand shows just how much faith he has in this book by having one of his main cast members sidelined not for just one, but for two issues now. Yes, these people are super, but Rand shows us that they are also human, emotional and fragile. Also evidenced by Jasonís confrontation with, and apology to, one of the Shining Path members for his acts from issue #2.

The subplot with Senator Strickland trying to sabotage the Compound and the NTF picks up a little steam as well. Weíre left with a few clues as to who else may be on his side, and itís shaping up to be a pretty good conspiracy story, leaving you with more questions than answers.

Penaís art seems to have grown a little since the last issue. Thereís still a slight problem with telling the difference in some of the male characters (most especially when theyíre out of uniform), but the way he illustrates Jasonís new powers is fabulous, and when he starts to smile at his new abilities, we canít help but smile with him. He is able to convey movement and emotion, something you donít see in a lot of the mainstream superhero books. The cover to this issue was a step up from last issues excellent cover as well. Rendered by Juan Ferreyra, itís something thatís become standard for superhero comics, the ďposeĒ cover, but it looks fabulous and even shows off one of Jasonís new powers in the process.

Helios continues to move in the right direction and separates itself from most of the dreg that mainstream capes books have become. Itís still adolescent power fantasy, but itís well written, good looking and a lot of fun. Grade: 4/5

-- Logan Polk

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