Paul succeeded in completing his possibly God-given mission last issue. Things haven’t been going so well though for Paul personally though. He and his wife are in counseling, and Paul is still seeing Gabe (short for Gabriel—as in of the Heavenly Host), whom continues to warn him that his mission might be complete for the moment, but Paul needs to be ready. As Gabe tells him, “Go back to your life. But be ready.” After Paul does some snooping around to try to get to the bottom of just who this Gabe character is, Paul becomes convinced that he is insane. It appears the only other person who has seen Gabe is a rambling and homeless street preacher. That is until Paul is assaulted by Gabe just outside his own home…
Semi-minimalist art, zero super (or supernatural) heroics, and very little action characterize The Mission. One might think that this makes for a boring comic book, but the exact opposite is the case. The Mission is a well plotted supernatural mystery that builds with each issue. The best part about this supernatural mystery is that there are no warrior angels, heavenly visions, or demons hiding in the shadows. The mystery is in the words and actions of the characters, not in the visual setting. Don’t get me wrong. I love stuff like Eternal Descent with it’s rock and roll angels and devils, but The Mission is much more of a psychological thriller than that work. Our protagonist, Paul is chosen by Gabe to complete certain missions that involve killing certain men. Paul isn’t privy to the information on why the men need executing beyond the fact that Paul is a soldier in the war between good and evil, according to his patron Gabe. Paul is not a volunteer though, and needs some violent coaxing by Gabe to keep on the straight and narrow, so to speak. When Paul becomes convinced that he might just be crazy and that he needs help, events develop that call either calls his family’s sanity into question, or confirms that Paul is really experiencing the events that we are privy to as readers through Paul’s position as the first person narrator. At first, we become convinced along with Paul that he just might really be insane, only to discover that he really might not be. Nothing is clear, and there is plenty of room for varied interpretation of the events of this issue. No matter what one’s opinion on the nature of the events, we are hooked as readers and will be back for issue 4.
Series artist Werther Dell’edera is a master of facial expression, but his backgrounds, outfits, buildings, and vehicles are all pretty bland and sparsely detailed. This is the point though because the story hinges upon the psychological states of Paul, Gabe, the crazy street preacher, and Paul’s wife. The best way to get at the real theme of the story (the psychological affects the supernatural elements of the story are having on Paul as well as the affects that perceived insanity and sanity are having on several characters), the expressions of the characters must be in the forefront, and truly be the focus of the readers attention in order to feel the full effect of the story.
Overall, The Mission is another example of the quality comics that Image Comics are currently publishing. Spandex, sci-fi battles, and super-heroics are all fun and poignant enough at times, but every once in a while a simple mystery unfolded over the course of a few months in a less Earth-shattering and more mundane way is just as much worth reading.