Okay, so The Cabal is a very, very, very short subject story of only ten pages that was told in two five-page parts, as back-up features in Darkhawk #s 26 and 27. That’s not to say that it’s bad, it’s just… short. There are plenty of short-form stories that work very well: better than they would have had they been artificially dragged out, actually. The Children of the Corn by Stephen King is a great example of this, as is Bellicrostic by Jessica Grant and Falling into Fire by Ellen Curtis.
And yeah, this is another of those really, really great short-form narratives. Moreso even than the the story it’s telling, it serves to clarify a bit of the tedium of Darkhawk’s ongoing plot that was mired by convoluted storytelling before and didn’t come off as clearly as it should have: that being The Cabal itself, and Chris’s father Mike’s place in it.
What this story explains — far better than it was originally serialized throughout the first half of this series — is that The Cabal is a secret group of police officers who chose to band together and work behind the scenes to put a stop to crimes when the restrictions of the legal system prevented them from doing so. In short: to be the “Edge Against Crime” that has been Chris’s mantra all through this series. Chris “inherited” this way of thinking from his father, who we learn was one of the founding members of The Cabal, but who turned against them when they began to be more and more extreme in their war on crime.
One of the methods that The Cabal employed was the Savage Steel armor, an Iron Man type suit last seen in Assault on Armor City. The trick? Each member of The Cabal would take turns wearing the armor, making it difficult or impossible for their vigilante activities to be pinned on any one person, or any of them. This in itself, now that I understand it properly, is a stroke of genius: a great, realistic, smart idea on the part of author Danny Fingeroth. It feels like something out of Dexter, had Dexter had a super-hero bent to it.
This story follows three extremest members of The Cabal as they attempt to hunt down and exterminate three criminals: Jimmy Zafar, Johnny Leone, and Harry Lennox. One of The Cabal has a fourth man, Athur Vale, captive at the start of the story. Vale was the man in the Savage Steel armor in Assault on Armor City, and now it appears they’re typing up loose ends, but Vale breaks free and grabs an automatic weapon, intent on redeeming himself.
Vale has The Cabal, and his fellow inmates, in his sights: but cannot decide which to take out. Does he take out The Cabal, who threatened his life and turned on him? Or follow his original thought process as a Cabal member and as Savage Steel, and kill the criminals who have become his friends since he went inside?
Before he can make his choice, his is shot in the arm by a policewoman named Aggie, whose partner congratulates her on disarming Vale without loss of life. Aggie responds that she had a great teacher when she was still a rookie, the best cop she’d ever known: Mike Powell.
Though the ending connecting back to Darkhawk’s father is a little ham-fisted, it doesn’t detract from a great story with real thought behind it that adds some much-needed depth to the growing Darkhawk mythos. This is a great story, with some great ideas.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“This is a great story, with some great ideas.”