If you like reading about the exploits of military personnel who are really good at what they do, and subscribe to certain political views, then you’ll likely be entirely satisfied by this third (and final?) volume of “The Activity.” After a flashback to Fallujah during the second Iraq War, things return to the present as the members of Team Omaha are still on the bench after one of their own was arrested regarding a potential security breach on his wife’s part. After spending some time way south of the border in Rio, helping out some Israeli special forces on a rescue mission, they’re back on the clock as things start heating up in Iran. Writer Nathan Edmondson continues to show Omaha’s exploits in a straightforward, no-fuss manner that remains blessedly free of personal melodrama, romantic or otherwise. The stories being told here also have more of a dramatic arc to them than we’ve seen in previous volumes, and also feature some clever means of getting suspects to talk. I’ve never seen a lap dance used as a means of interrogation, and the setup with the helicopter was expertly played. All in all, some good drama is mined from the action as Omaha’s considerable skill is pitted against threats they can manage and one they need a little divine intervention (courtesy of the CIA) to surmount.
While I enjoyed this volume on those merits, there are parts of it that leave a sour taste in my mouth. I was looking forward to finding out the truth behind the intelligence leak that led to one of Team Omaha being arrested, but that thread is dealt with far too quickly to be satisfying. The bigger issue is that, in the end, this winds up reading like a conservative power fantasy. Omaha is called in to help dismantle Iran’s nuclear weapons program even though such a thing has yet to be proven to exist in the real world. But I’m sure there are a lot of politicians out there who would love for it to be true and allow us to march into that country, guns blazing, just like we did in Iraq. All this effectively makes me appreciate Garth Ennis’ war stories that much more due to their focus on the bonds between soldiers and general cynicism towards the motivations of their superiors. “The Activity’s” world is far more black and white and less interesting beyond the methods employed by its consummately skilled protagonists.
(There’s also something to be said for the most entertaining story in a series that trafficks in realism and believability to involve C4-sniffing butterflies, but I can’t figure out what it is…)