Writer(s): John Lees, Tyler James
Art: Alex Cormack, Jules Rivera
Released: 21st October, 2015
Second issues are usually a mixed bag – as a creative team, you jam your foot in the door with your first issue, grabbing the reader’s/publisher’s attention, and trying to not let go of their metaphorical lapels until the final page. With that done, issue twos have a habit of being an exhale of relief, and can often as not resort to coasting through some relatively peripheral character development that, whilst essential, isn’t precisely exciting. The off-cuts of the first issue that still need to be said, if you will.
Oxymoron does not have this problem – the first issue hit the ground with a perfectly formed jog, and this second issue sees them breaking into a sprint, with nary a stumble in sight. The issue essentially sees our titular villain establishing his modus operandi, providing context and motivation – with both being rather lovely in their psychoses.
Lees does a fantastic job of mounting tension here – the set pieces feel like they came out of the darker recesses of the Nolan brothers’ collective psyche, only here, we don’t have a guy dressed up as a flying rodent as an ‘it’ll be fine!’ safety net, and this lends the story a nerve-shredding edge that these sort of ‘Batman but…’ stories often lack. It’s a coalescence of excellent characterisation, both ongoing in this issue, and the incredibly solid foundation built in issue one.
Cormack’s art continues to meld extraordinarily well with Rivera’s colour-work – in particular, there’s something delightfully unsettling about the explosions of violence that pepper the issue. Cormack has an exceptional eye for viscera, and the splashes of crimson against the muted background tones is incredibly impactful. Cormack’s storytelling remains absolutely top-notch – with immaculate pacing, drawing your eyes across the page with a perfect balance between negative and gorgeously detailed positive spaces.
If one can conjure a single criticism – beyond the standard ‘next month can’t come quickly enough’ – it’s that there’s occasional moments where the colours flare into perhaps a little too much life. If the likes of Se7en and Hannibal are being reference, there’re just a few panels where the colours feel a little too saturated, and whilst it’s not deal-breaking, it is a little bit distracting from what’s otherwise an absolutely beautiful book.
So yes, this is still an absolute belter of a read, held together by terrific writing from the no-longer-so-enigmatic Lees, and magnificent artwork from Cormack and Rivera. Next month really can’t come quickly enough – devour this with your eyes immediately.
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The Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24