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It has long been established that the United States isn’t the center of metahuman power in the DC Universe, despite the presence of Superman and Batman here.Â Other heroes predated the JLA, notably the Global Guardians, Japan’s Big Science Action, and more.Â In the heart of China, the greatest “super-functionaries” of the state work together (whether they want to or not) under the auspices of the government in Beijing.Â But what happens when a threat is bigger even than their combined abilities?
Written by Tony Bedard
Art by Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens
Cover by Stanley “Artgerm” Lau
Previously, on The Great Ten:Â In the wake of the year without the Bats, Supey and Wondawummin, China’s superhuman strike team has been revealed to the world.Â Â From the persepective of the West, though, the Great Ten are somewhat enigmatic, as they have stood alongside Black Adam in the battle that nearly destroyed Bialya, but worked extensively with the international peacekeeping force called Checkmate.Â Last time out, we were introduced to a mystery, given the secret origin of Accomplished Perfect Physician (who turns out to be not only a modern day Robin Hood, albeit one lacking a bright orange Dodge Charger, and also the former adversary of his current team leader) leading to a revelation as beings claiming to be the gods of Chinese myth showed up to attack the cities of China…Â Whether or not these are the real deities or not (Thor belonging to the other company, mind you) that can NOTÂ be good.
We open with a montage of recent years by the massively underrated Scott McDaniel, explaining what happened in China to keep their metahumans under wraps.Â Hint:Â Many were executed under state orders.Â In recent years, though, the government decided that supers represented a new kind of arms race, and began gathering their surviving superhumans together under the auspices of the Communist party.Â Faced with powered beings claiming to be gods, August General In Iron, Ghost Fox Killer and Accomplished Perfect Physician leap into action, while the man called Celestial Archer is paralyzed with self-doubt.Â They are nearly overwhelmed when more of their team arrives (Immortal Man In Darkness, Thundermind, Seven Deadly Brothers and Shaolin Robot, each of whom has a distinct bearing and fighting stance, kudos to McDaniel) and the fighty-fighty begins in earnest.Â August General continues hectoring the Archer, ordering him to fight, the Archer panics and SHOOTS HIS OWN LEADER!Â Fleeing the combat, Celestial Archer realizes that, inside, he’s just a scared teenage boy hiding behind the facade of a legend.
We are given the origin of the Archer, a young lad who was forced by circumstance to run with a gang in the city of Tai’an.Â When his lack of skills at theivery causes his gang to get caught, he is forced to run, hiding in an ancient tree from his former friends.Â Huddling in darkness, the boy is swallowed by the tree, and finds himself before a glowing, floating bow, the Celestial Bow of Yi the legendary archer.Â He grasped the magic weapon and was transformed into a hero, chasing off his pals and the corrupt cops who allowed them to run through the streets of Tai-an.Â In the present, the Archer is still running, albeitÂ from his own teammates, but is found by the Accomplished Perfect Physician.Â The two heroes discuss his origins, how Xiang-O, the maiden of the moon, told him that he had been chosen of the gods.Â Celestial Archer explains that he has been to the home of these beings, a perfect world of floathing cities where he was given a mission to change the world, and I love the representation of their world…Â The art really nails the sense ofÂ wonder and awe that you’d expect from a floating city in the great beyond.Â Â Archer believes that the gods have come because he failed, and seemingly turns on the Physician.Â The beings teleport away, taking Celestial Archer with them, reappearing in cities across China.Â A panicked Vice Premier is forced to shut down all the networks and newspaper coverage to keep the news from getting out, as things look very dark for the Great Ten indeed…
For some reason, when I read the name Tony Bedard, a part of my brain wants to go “bleah” and move on.Â With this issue, I realized why this happens…Â Tony Bedard has a somewhatÂ unusual writing style, but one that I find that I enjoy.Â My imaginary problem with his work comes from his following beloved writers on series that really mean something to me, following Judd Winick on ‘Exiles,’ Gail Simone on ‘Birds of Prey,’ and Mark Waid on ‘Legion of Super-Heroes’.Â This series carefully balances the expositional bits of origin with the ongoing struggle, and manages to conceptualize a Chinese superteam that isn’t just the JLA with epicanthic folds.Â The use of the central party as the real source of power in the book is nicely handled, and the character bits are fun (as when Ghost Fox Killer angrily turns her pet jade lion on Celestial Archer after he shoots her lover, the August General In Iron.)Â The names of the characters are great fun, rolling off the tongue in awesome ways, while their plight (forced to fight what may be their own gods) is one that I can’t recall having seen before, at least recently.Â Â The Great Ten #2 isÂ a well balanced comic, with wonderful art throughout, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.Â I’m very interested in seeing where this all ends up…