Five years before the current DC Universe time period, the enigmatic John Lynch assembled a team of soldiers, mercenaries, and people with all-around extraordinary physical abilities to combat or contain the growing threat of metahumans. During its first mission, Team 7 stopped the mystical entity known as Eclipso from wreaking havoc and generally doing villain stuff. In the course of events, Slade Wilson was nearly killed and Dinah Drake has come to question the team's objective.
Team 7 #5: "Mission 2.1: The Spartan Way" is written by Justin Jordan, with art in the present-day sequences provided by Jesus Merino and Nei Ruffino, and the flashback sequences by Pascal Alixe and Nathan Erying. Gary Frank drew the cover with Cam Smith inking.
The issue begins in present day Deathstroke, aka Slade Wilson, boarding something that looks vaguely like a gigantic, possibly military-grade airboat. (Man, there is nothing like a good helicarrier!) Deathstroke shoots his way into the office of his former boss, John Lynch, who doesn't look terribly concerned for his safety or remorseful for the men Slade just murdered to get to him.
We then cut to five years ago, where Caitlin Fairchild, the teenage daughter of Slade's teammate, Alex Fairchild, is working at The Advanced Prosthetic Research Center. I loved Caitlin Fairchild as the leader of Wildstorm's Gen13 when that book first came out twenty years ago. What the New 52 has done to her in this series and in Superboy is, well, as disappointing as all of the other character evolutions.
Caitlin, a precocious little scientist is upgrading the cybernetic arm of Maxine Manchester, who in a different universe, was the cyborg member of WildC.A.T.s known as Ladytron. There is a nod to her previous history with Caitlin listening to a BritPop band called Ladytron during their conversation. Of course, I didn't pick up on that reference when I first read it; I figured this girl was someone we knew because she looked familiar but I've never read those issues of WildC.A.T.s. Thanks to ComicVine for identifying the lady in this scene.
Then Caitlin is met by the head of the research center, Doctor Henshaw. Ah, now this bozo I know. Henshaw is very kind and considerate toward Caitlin, almost suspiciously so much that I expected him to make a pass at her, but that doesn't happen.
Henshaw gives Caitlin some rudimentary task, and then he goes into another lab to oversee Project: Spartan. There is a humanoid man on a lab table with cybernetic parts under the skin. The doctors' dialogue makes it clear that "Spartan" is not their creation, they just found him after he was hurt/damaged. Not sure how much or if any of the original Spartan from WildC.A.T.s will be represented by this character.
Then we cut to... wherever it is Team 7 hangs out or recuperates. Slade is aggressively exercising, despite his recent trauma. Alex Fairchild, who stabbed him last issue, by the way, comes to have a chat. Alex tells Slade the reason he works for Lynch is to give his daughter a better future. He wants to know why Slade joined the team.
In a different part of Team 7's base--or, more specifically, "elsewhere"--Dinah Drake pays Lynch a visit. She ain't too happy with the way things are going for the team, and accuses Lynch of trying to destroy the team he hand picked.
That dialogue isn't as cute as the writer wants it to sound, but anyway...
Holy &@#$ing God!!!
Huh... So Lynch is trying to give the team superpowers... Okay...
Back at the Advanced Cybernetics Research Center, Caitlin is attacked by a white lab rabbit that has been fused nightmarishly with cybernetic parts. She crushes it with a clipboard, then backtracks the rabbit's path to the Project: Spartan lab, where she finds Maxine and the rest of the doctors in--to put it mildly--a bit of a pickle.
Back in the present aboard Lynch's party yacht, Slade opens fire trying to kill him, but Lynch goes all Darth Vader on Cloud City stopping the bullets and pulling the gun right out of Slade's hand.
The last page cryptically shows a destroyed city and a hand popping up out of the ground. Someone they thought they killed didn't die.
Slade asks Lynch if there is anyone left from the Team who doesn't have powers? Good question...
- Dinah Drake at some point gets her sonic scream, the Canary Cry, so we know she gets a superpower at some point.
- Slade Wilson becomes a super soldier with advanced strength, speed, healing, endurance, mental processing and such.
- Cole Cash gets some kind of special power by the time he becomes Grifter, though I don't remember what that is. He does not appear in this issue.
- John Lynch apparently has some kind of magnetic or telekinetic power. Not sure where that came from.
- Amanda Waller has never displayed any kind of power that I'm aware of, other than shedding a hundred and fifty pounds for the New 52, but I don't read Suicide Squad so maybe she has a power in that series. She does not appear in this issue.
- Kurt Lance supposedly died, but we now know that's not the case. There have been some hints and indications in Birds of Prey that he might have amplified or activated Dinah's sonic abilities. He does not appear in this issue.
- Alex Fairchild hasn't been shown in the present day to my knowledge.
- Dean Higgins hasn't been shown in the present day to my knowledge. He does not appear in this issue.
- James Bronson hasn't been shown in the present day to my knowledge. He does not appear in this issue.
- Summer Ramos hasn't been shown in the present day to my knowledge. She does not appear in this issue.
Only half of the team appears in this issue, and if we're counting Lynch and Ramos, only 40% of the main cast appears in this issue. It really feels more like Caitlin Fairchild's story as she is first exposed to the horrible fallout of Henshaw's Project: Spartan.
This issue didn't feel like the first part of a new mission. It felt like a prologue--more of a transitional issue. But it was also probably the best of the series so far. All of the flashback scenes worked; it was the frame story with Deathstroke that I didn't care about. Jordan gives the characters some much-needed quiet time to actually develop characterization. We know more about Dinah, Lynch, Slade and Alex from this issue than we have learned in the previous five. And the horrors coming out of the cybernetics lab are vastly more interesting and threatening than the Eclipso zombies the team first fought aboard the prison (which, again, was called "The Float").
At this point, there are only three more issues left of this series. I don't think I will miss it, but I am kind of excited for the first time to read them because this setup was pretty good.