Story: David Avallone
Art: Bane Wade
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
What They Say:
You know that thing where your flight back to NYC is interrupted so you can be debriefed at a secret government base, only to find that base under attack by giant radioactive monsters? And you can’t get another flight back home until you defeat the giant radioactive monsters? Sucks, right? But our Bettie can handle it.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
It’s been a weird and wild ride so far in this series and I’m still having a time trying to get a handle on it. David Avallone has played to the strengths of the period and the charm of the character to get it to work and that does largely continue here even if the story feels like it’s gone off the rails. More problematic is the addition of Bane Wade on the artwork. While I like what he does with the character designs and layouts there’s just this sense and feeling for me that it diverges too much from the past artists and doesn’t fit in with the style that’s been established. It also doesn’t help that there’s not much fashion or style in this part of the arc which limits what Wade can do.
The focus here is on McKnight as he and Bettie are together and she wants answers for all that’s gone on. We do get some small ones about how Rick was working for him to keep an eye on things as part of a larger investigation but it’s kind of non-answers for the most part. McKnight is kind of flighty about it as he will give her answers once they get to their next location, which is a secure facility at Groom Lake. It’s fun to get her into some fatigues and to figure out this situation but she’s struggling with the safety of her friends from the current goings-on. McKnight’s got different plans for all of this as his intent in getting them to Groom Lake was for a real physical and check-up for her after all of the events that could introduce more radiation. You know that she’ll be fine but at least that seems a little plausible.
What makes this installment wonky and kept it from flowing well for me is that some bad stuff is suddenly going down on the base. And that’s in the form of some common desert scorpions suddenly being enlarged to truly terrifying size and killing anyone it gets us in contact with. It is fun to watch with that 1950’s B-movie mindset and all but it’s so out of the blue compared to other things in this series that it just left me a little dumbfounded. Wade does get to have some fun in illustrating all of that with the attack underway but there’s so little in the way of character to connect with here that it just become empty action. But that one scene with the one soldier in the claw getting drawn closer, man, that made me wince for the poor guy. Everything moves here with lots of back and forth in fighting with Bettie sticking to McKnight and helping to fight in what little way she can but even she feels sidelined here.
Bettie Page has a kind of quiet installment here in a way as there’s a little nod to story progression and reveals but mostly it just keeps to the action. With giant unexplained scorpions. There’s a good bit of B-movie terror from this but it doesn’t resonate more due to the lack of characters we’re invested in as even poor Bettie feels like a supporting character here, pulled along the way with no new answers or reveals to give it something to feel weighted with. Combine that with Wade’s solid artwork that doesn’t fit the series for me, especially since there’s no chance to show off with fashion here, and it’s not a memorable installment.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: November 29th, 2017