Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: David Lapham
Artist: Mike Huddleston
Release Date: 17th September 2014
With the Strigoi lurking in every dark corner, and his options becoming ever more limited, the Master’s net is slowly closing on Ephraim Goodweather. His single-minded determination to save his son has blinded him to the bigger picture, and slowly eroded the trust of his closest allies. Meanwhile, The Master’s attempts at persuasion have failed, so he decides upon a new and more disturbing tactic to ensnare his most coveted prey.
David Lapham’s elegantly constructed tale is quite simply an emotional rollercoaster. Just when you think things are beginning to look up, he delivers another crushing blow; but you’d be a fool not to come back for more. Building on a strong opening issue, we are invited further into the foreboding and oppressive world of the Master’s making, as we follow Eph’s downward spiral into desperation and despair. The sense of hopelessness permeating the issue is almost palpable. The city’s inhabitants are terrified; no-one dares lift their head, they are a population cowed into submission. Mike Huddleston’s gritty, bold lines, bolstered by Dan Jackson’s subdued colours, only serve to enhance the atmosphere. Bleak, rain-soaked cityscapes are enveloped by foreboding clouds, their lifeless streets awash with an inescapable, malevolent threat. As in the last issue, it’s the detailed facial expressions that once more catch the eye, each one readily conveying the nuances of the moment.
The central focus of this second issue, though, is the situation regarding Eph’s son Zack, and his relationship to The Master. Although impressed by Eph’s resourcefulness and determination, The Master is clearly wary of the potential threat he poses and seeks to subjugate him, rather than simply kill him. Without going into spoiler territory, The Master’s plans for Eph, and his twisted world view are deftly laid out in a skilfully crafted metaphor involving Zack’s tending of the derelict city Zoo.
Maintaining the high standards of the opening issue was always going to be a tough ask, but from both a writing and artistic standpoint, the creative team deliver with aplomb.
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