Reggie never much liked his parents, but even he has to admit that his mother saved his life.

Of course, she did it by replacing his severed arm with a mass of sentient art, which can lead to additional complications in living that life.  So, y’know, mixed blessing, I guess.  Your Major Spoilers review of Art Ops #5 awaits!

ArtOps5CoverART OPS #5
Writer: Shaun Simon
Artist: Michael Allred & Matt Brundage
Colorist: Laura Allred
Letterer: Todd Klein
Editor: Shelly Bond
Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in Art Ops: Reggie Jones (aka Reggie Riot) has a secret: Years ago, his mom, a member of a clandestine organization known as Art Operations, saved his life after an accident by replacing his arm with one made of pure art.  Years later, she and the whole of Art Ops are gone, and the menaces that they face are running rampant, liberating and/or stealing the greatest works of art in history for reasons unknown.  With his friends (including The Mona Lisa), he is now the only thing that can stop the works of art from finally taking over…

It’s just too bad he really doesn’t want to.


The last five issues of this book have been wonderfully inventive, with Scarlett (a lost work of art who resents being treated as a thing) co-opting the most recognizable works of art and corrupting them into something else entirely.  The legendary statue of David has become a diseased monster, while Mona Lisa herself is now a strange, impressionistic monstrosity.  Worst of all, the mysterious Figure A (who is clearly a damn vampire, I might add) has convinced Reggie to embrace his artistic nature and become…


…sort of a living Jackson Pollock painting, a visual representation that truly has to be seen to be believed.  Of course, buying into Figure A’s madness has terrible consequences, especially for one of his closest friends…


The sight of ‘David’ mutated into a giant tumorous mass was disturbing, but this issue features the terrible sight of a roomful of normal people transformed into drawings, avant garde paintings and sculptures and various other body-horror masterpieces, and it’s one of the most terrible things I’ve ever seen visualized.  What makes it worse is the clean lines of Matt Brundage and Mike Allred (and Laura’s vibrant colors), making the various permutations of humanity somehow cheerful in their abject soul-crushing horror.  Indeed, it’s the art that makes this book sing, even though the premise (“Art is alive and not all of it is happy, and the last line of defense against it is now gone”) is kind of brilliant, and I’m not entirely sure that this story would work as well (or at all) with a lesser artist.  The issue’s end is also lovely, with a clear wrap-up (Reggie returning a pregnant, tattooed and pierced Mona Lisa to her frame is quite amusing) leading to a big stinger reveal of Reggie’s father, the legendary Danny Doll.


It’s an ending that works on multiple levels as, until that final page, this issue felt like the big wrap to a miniseries rather than a book with ongoing ties, and the return of Danny and the CBGB bathroom (seen in previous issues as a missing work of art) is actually a really exhilarating and exciting moment for me.  In short, Art Ops #5 is the right kind of wild, weird stuff, with artwork that lives up to the highfalutin’ fine art premise, and clever writing throughout, earning a very impressive 4.5 out of 5 stars overall.  It’s a book in the classic Vertigo vein, and I’m thrilled to see it as an ongoing…



Wild concepts and truly beautiful art make up for any shortcomings in the plotting, dragging you along on a wildly inventive ride. A truly beautiful issue...

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About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

1 Comment

  1. Art ops has been such an amazing title to draw. Shaun Simonhas written a truly unique world. Handing the penciled art over to mike and laura to see the brilliant embellishments they put in with ink and color what can i say but WOW! There is no other title like it anywhere and i am so happy we get to continue with it.

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