After a jaw-droppingly good first 10 issues, this third volume has a Hell of a lot riding on it, with Hickman’s expertly woven plot threads still only part way through their unveiling at this stage.
The series as a whole is and remains absolutely exceptional – defying genre completely to bring us a timeless tale of upheaval, violence and redemption, tinged with apocalyptic portents. This issue, however? It’s very much a holding pattern, a prelude to war, and whilst it’s fascinatingly written and played, it’s now been two issues since we heard from Death and the search for his son, and I’m going to have to play the flipside of the coin and say that this comes as something of a disappointment. It would seem Chris is a far more patient man than I! (See the review of issue 11 for his contrasting opinion, as this treads similar ground.)
Still, Dragotta’s art remains great – his imagining of the world is crystal clear, and his mastery of characters’ expressions gives the drama of the issue a significant amount of heft. His flair for the grotesque is an full display here, some pleasingly twisted imagery set to make your skin attempt an escape.
Then there’s Hickman, who has proven time and time again that he’s not only a man who knows exactly what he’s doing, but takes his time doing it, every little detail being put into place for what surely promises to be an explosive next few issues.
But that remains to be seen, and the slow-burning, politically-charged tension of this issue is something a significant change of pace when compared to the absolute blasts of the first two volumes. But the pay-off will certainly be worth it.
The writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24