Spotlight: The Activity
The Activity, from Image Comics, is an on-going series that follows the exploits of a secretive branch of U.S. intelligence, known as the Intelligence Support Activity. They are U.S. SOCOM’s (Special Operations Command) intelligence branch, but more secretive and a very compartmentalized unit. Many members of the Special Operations Forces knew very little about them or what kind of work they performed. It’s safe to say that the stories told within the series never really happened, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not a fun story to read.
A little background on just what they do. It’s been reported, since you know they do try to keep secret what it is they exactly do, that the ISA, or The Activity mostly gather intelligence for the US SOCOM. They get the intelligence that units such as Delta Force, SEAL Team Six and JSOC’s Tier One units use. To say that these guys are secretive would be a massive understatement. Still, it’s fun to imagine just what they come across during their jaunts all over the world. And that’s where The Activity comes in.
From co-creator/writer Nathan Edmondson and co-creator/artist Mitch Gerads, this on-going series introduces us to “Team Omaha”, an ISA direct action team tasked with providing intel to the U.S.’s ongoing covert operations. Joining the team in the first issue is new recruit Leslie “Fiddler” Ryan, who joins the rest over her team: Danny “Weatherman” Locke, Francis “Speakeasy” Doyle, Luke “Switch Foot” Styles, and Zoe “Bookstore” Dallas.
They’ve recently lost a teammate but Leslie (aka Fiddler) joins them just in time for a mission to Rome, followed by a jaunt to Amsterdam in the second issue. By the end of the first five issues, Omaha will have been to five different continents and four different missions. The great thing about The Activity is that it rarely goes as planned. Missions have set backs, people die and outside variable making some things a little harder to achieve.
Throughout the series, seeds have been planted that introduce new characters from other agencies, as well as some characters from Delta Force. The latest issue, number 13, watches some of those seeds grow into fruition with an intense mission behind enemy lines.
The research for The Activity is and continues to be extensive for both creators, according to an interview Edmondson gave. Gerads will reportedly spend the first quarter to half his work day pulling reference material for what he’ll draw in the book to make it as gripping and realistic as he can, right down to uniforms, movements and how the team holds their weapons. The art is well done and suits the material well. The small details, the weapons and equipment that soldiers use, is very accurate with a few minor exceptions.
When reading the book you get a sense that the author has done his homework well, the stories are gripping and give a detailed look into how the ISA operates. But he leaves out little things here and there, things people unfamiliar with the way they operate will never realize, but those in the know will instantly pick out. This is done on purpose, because Edmondson isn’t writing a how to, he’s telling a story. Sometimes you need to streamline things for the sake of story telling, and it’s done exceptionally well in this instance.
With the series hitting issue 13 already the inevitable trade paperback releases have already started. There are currently two volumes to the series, with a third being released in October, which can be found at most comic retailers as well as places like Amazon. Volume 1, which can be found for a mere $10 on Amazon, collects issues 1-5 and introduces readers to the team and follows Omaha to various locations around the world. Each issue in the trade paperback serves as a good starting point for new readers.
Volume 2 follows the team from Uzbekistan to Somalia to Minneapolis, and it’s just $11 and change on Amazon, so for a mere $20 combined you get some great reading material and you’ll be nearly caught up with the current series. It’s a great, and easy way to get into an exciting series that’s been flying under the radar.
If you’re a comic fan, or just looking for a military thriller that is really well done, I highly recommend picking up The Activity.