Publisher: Image Comics
Story By: Andy Diggle
Art By: Shawn Martinbrough, Adriano Lucas
Release Date: 25th February, 2015
With a significant hiatus following the conclusion of the previous “Hit List” arc, it was always going to be something of a challenge for Andy Diggle and Shawn Martinbrough to rekindle the same crackling energy that the finale provided. However, instead of trying to hit the ground running here, they wisely opt for a slower pace, recapping some of the previous events and providing a transitional issue that allows us to take stock of the mindsets of our main players — while simultaneously laying the groundwork for what is to come.
As always, Diggle’s strength lies in his natural, flowing dialogue, and that gift is on full display here as he lets us catch up with several familiar faces. We may have been away for over three months, but these characters slip right back on like a comfortable pair of slippers – albeit slippers awash with sexual tension, subtext and resentment. Putting that confusing metaphor aside for the time being, the fact remains that Diggle has crafted some wonderfully three-dimensional characters here, and even without the urgency and drama of previous issues, watching them interact with each other is still an absolute joy.
Martinborough’s distinctive artwork is also comfortingly familiar, with his cinematic layouts and impressive use of shadow giving the issue a dynamism that could have potentially been lacking in the absence of any real ‘action’. Thick lines and slightly over-exaggerated facial expressions are his weapons of choice, and while lovers of detailed linework may be disappointed, his style works perfectly for this particular series – especially when combined with the stellar colour work of Adriano Lucas. Enhancing Martinborough’s shadows and painting a stark contrast between beaches, shadowy streets and dimly lit hotel rooms, Lucas’ work – while perhaps being a little ‘harsh’ for some tastes – also works perfectly for this style of book.
Overall, while it could almost be seen as a transitional, or ‘set-up’ issue — a deep breath before the next big plunge — the final pages provide a spark that seems destined to lead to a raging inferno before too long. At any rate, simply being reunited with these familiar characters, and the world that Diggle and Martinborough have created as a whole, is a long overdue pleasure.