STEALTH #3, available from Image Comics on July 8th, follows Tony’s father as he seeks to reclaim his suit and gather intel on Dead Hand before Detroit is ripped apart. Mike Costa places the heroes and villains on a collision course while Tony struggles with his new secret.
Jason Howard’s composition on the cover is a great match for this issue’s content. Dead Hand takes the city hostage in Joker-like fashion, and he calls on the citizens of Detroit to turn over Stealth. Effectively, he turns Detroit against their hometown hero and puts Stealth right in the palm of his hand. There’s a quality about this cover’s composition that’s reminiscent of classic Neal Adams’ Batman covers.
Writing [No Spoilers]
Mike Costa’s story focuses on the fallout from Tony’s discovery of Stealth’s real identity. Deadly Hand turns Detroit into a fear-zone by ordering and carrying out random executions, and Stealth visits old haunts to gather any weapon he can use to put an end to the violence.
Howard’s cover works so well because this reads very much like a Batman/Joker story from cover to cover. Costa sets up a villain that’s practically a kissing cousin to the Joker, distorted face included. Stealth is a man against the world, using gadgets and guile to stop Dead Hand. And Detroit (much like Gotham) is ready to boil over from the violence and fear. Despite the lack of action in this issue, the tension is turned up to 11 for the next issue.
Nate Bellegarde’s art is grounded and emotional. Building on Costa’s writing, most of the issue is a plot development that starts the climb towards the arc’s climax. That development takes place in small vignette scenes where the characters are exchanging information and laying plans, usually through serious conversation. To prevent those scenes from becoming flat, Bellegarde pays a lot of attention to facial expressions that communicate just as much through the eyes as their word balloons.
Bellegarde’s attention to facial expressions is made all the more exceptional by the distinctive and realistic design of all the characters, including the lesser side characters. From the doctor you meet in the opening scene to the gang members that receive an unlikely proposition, everyone looks like real people you’d see walking down a city street. Noses, eyes, and hair are distinctive and natural, and you can tell Bellegarde took the time to not just put copy/paste side characters in the panels just to get it done.
Tamra Bonvillain’s coloring is excellent in this issue for her execution of shading. There’s an entire range of scenes that take place just past sunset, and the sky is cast in deep violet. The characters have an outdoor meeting, and the character shading pops without looking too bright, and it makes the darkening sky stand out more than its already rich color. It’s a gorgeous bit of work from Bonvillain.
Sal Cipriano’s lettering is clean, easy to read, and efficient. Cipriano made a clever choice with the caption boxes when Stealth is suited up that staggers with a beveled square tooth on one edge to mimic the style of Stealth’s wing design. It adds to the flair of the overall issue’s style and makes the text more enjoyable to read.
STEALTH #3, available from Image Comics on July 8th, is a strong mid-point in the story arc that looks and feels like a classic Batman/Joker story. The writing is grounded and hits all the right emotional notes, and the art matches the emotional punches beat-for-beat. This is a solid recommendation.