So as you could tell from my various predictions in the reviews of the series’ previous instalments, I was expecting a rather big Deus Ex style twist at the conclusion of Children’s Crusade. Suffice to say that my expectations were left unfulfilled here. You can however expect some spoilers below!
My problems with this issue echo the problems I had with issue #2: we were led to expect a great reveal – or in the least something half-clever – and we didn’t get it. The series spent all this time building up speed and instead of zooming through the zebra crossing and crushing out expectation, it hit the brakes and let them cross. This whole series set us up to expect at least some clever turn of events, and we got nothing. It’s like biting into a cookie, only to discover that the chocolate chips are actually raisins.
But let’s backtrack. The issue picks up with Task Force 29 formulating a plan to rescue Titus King. It’s been revealed that Sebastian’s goal is to execute his father unless certain demands are met. Of course, the Task Force’s main ambition is to quell the tempers surrounding the Aug/human debate. Jensen’s focus, however, is on rescuing Emilia.
Jensen enters the scene of Sebastian’s drama, with the hope of disarming the bomb and extracting Emilia. This commences a dramatic exchange of words between Jensen, Sebastian and Titus. Murphy’s law, the communications between Jensen and the team are blocked. Playing on the side of caution, Vasquez executes Sebastian and the team storm in. Gunshot, scream, confusion and more gunshots – and eventually the hostiles are neutralised. Titus is carried off and Jensen voices his anger at the carnage, saying that the plan was to disarm the bomb and save the girl, rather than to forcibly extract King.
After things have calmed slightly, Jensen acknowledges that the source of the Bomb is still unknown. There’s an emotional exchange between Emilia and Jensen – though not in the way you’d expect. The young girl questions Jensen’s actions and his rescuing of Titus King, saying that he put himself on their (the Anti-Aug movement’s) side. As we’ve noticed, somewhere along this wild journey Adam developed an odd sort of fatherly bond and he seems quite taken aback at Emilia’s final statement. But his concern is focused on the girl’s well-being, rather than the ongoing feud.
As was expected, Titus King takes to the television, spinning the whole incident into a piece of Pro-human propaganda. He uses his relationship with his son Sebastian – and Sebastian’s death – to vilify the augmented population. And even Jensen seems shocked by King’s heartlessness. The comic then cuts to a discussion within a familiar group, who appear to be the omnipotent illuminati. The faceless members claim responsibility for the series’ events and speak of using the parliamentary alliances to put into action ‘the Human Restoration Act’. And so the comic closes, fairly anticlimactically, with more questions than answers.
Children’s Crusade told an interesting story, and it’s been a welcomed way to pass the time before the release of Mankind Divided. However, it would have benefited from a more compelling ending. These comics have worked as a stand-alone series, but this conclusion totally changed the tone of the series. Suddenly Children’s Crusade feels more like a primer for the upcoming game than a comic book saga. Even so, I can’t deny that the series held my attention. And it’s prompted my excitement for Mankind Divided’s August release. I honestly hope we see the Deus Ex universe explored in this way again.