There are two ways to view The Losers. Those happy with the series will appreciate the fall and rise aspects of the plots, with the team traversing the world in search of their elusive CIA enemy, each seeming defeat or successful plan offering a further clue that may bring them closer to their revenge. Alternatively the series could be seen as patience-straining and padded, with not enough characterisation to paper over the paucity of plot.

The latter wouldn’t be entirely fair, as the thought Andy Diggle has applied to the overall direction is apparent, and the trail he’s laid down has a convincing complexity about it, but there’s a problem with the pacing, which is drag, drag, explosion, drag drag. European writer Jean Van Hamme deals with similar material, also only employing surface characterisation, but there’s really no comparison. No matter how many times XIII‘s identity is again revealed as false or Largo Winch ends up in a foreign jail, Van Hamme’s built enough background to maintain the tension and curiosity. Diggle doesn’t resort to repetition, but fails to construct the building blocks to pull the reader along.

Van Hamme, of course, works with top artists, and Jock is also highly regarded, yet his characters are perpetually hidden in unrealistic shadow, and that’s taken to completely unconvincing levels by fill-in artist Ben Oliver. At one point the plot requires a character’s identity to be hidden for an end of chapter reveal. This is in a building dotted with security cameras. This person makes their way to an upstairs office, being watched all the time, partially by Clay, who should know them well, yet thanks to Oliver drawing their head as a circle of black ink no-one’s any the wiser.

The big reveal that closed Trifecta is of little consequence here, and Max’s machinations begin to clarify. “Conscience is for well fed Americans”, spouts Aisha “and I will not risk allowing Max to acquire a nuclear weapon.” That, as it turns out, may not be an option. If you want to see how it turns out, head for Endgame.