Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Declan Shalvey
Colours: Jordie Bellaire
Release Date: 12th August 2015
The title of Warren Ellis’ series could perhaps be considered analogous to how this intriguing story is being told. It’s as though we are gradually being drip-fed a wonderfully addictive drug, and over the course of these first four issues, the high has become increasingly intense. At times it’s felt confusing and disorienting – enough to make my head spin, anyway – but it’s always felt reassuringly good.
In this issue I experienced my first real moment of clarity, as the nature and purpose of the titular ‘injection’ is all but revealed, although it’s actual form still remains shrouded in mystery. Artist Declan Shalvey brilliantly captures the inception of the idea to create an investigative A.I. that will mine the past to help speed up the future – a tool that will help shorten the barren periods between leaps in human innovation, thus expediting our technological evolution. The hubris of those involved blinded them to the gravity of potential consequences, and evidently, their decision has had an adverse impact on the fabric of the universe. It’s effect on Maria Kilbride in particular has been our window in to the story.
Although she has been the focal point of Ellis’ labyrinthine plot so far, she’s also the character we’ve learned the least about. Ellis rectifies this in the issue’s final third, providing a startling background and revealing that a desire to make amends for her part in the AI’s creation is perhaps her driving motivation. Furthermore, it helps explain the change in how her character is illustrated, and impeccably coloured by the ever-impressive Jordie Bellaire. Her youthfully radiant presence of the flashbacks is in stark contrast to the heavier lines and deeper shading of the ashen-faced character we met in the series’ opening pages, who bore an obvious and weighty burden.
From a writing perspective, the series so far has been a joy to read, with Ellis’s script elegantly balancing florid lyricism with moments of striking realism. This issue, like the others before it, is fairly challenging, and paying attention to previous issues is probably a pre-requisite for enjoying it fully, although Ellis helpfully includes the occasional info dump to bring us up to speed, before adding yet another layer to the mystery. There are a few wrinkles to be sure; namely how some characters fit into the grand scheme of things, but rather than being a negative, these questions only serve to add more fuel to the fire of intrigue.
For me, next month’s hit can’t come soon enough. I strongly suggest you find yourself a dealer and get in on the action.