Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Writer: Justin Jordan
Artist: Ibrahim Moustafa
Release Date: 5th April 2017
Justin Jordan and Ibrahim Moustafa’s Savage Things continues this week as former child soldier Abel is “recruited” to try and take down Black Forrest, the unit he abandoned years ago and who are now embarking on a bloody reign of terror for reasons that are currently unknown.
The first issue was a tale of two halves, with a strong introduction giving way to a fairly generic, Bourne-esque sequence in the latter pages. Sadly, this issue features more of the same, with a fantastic first half packed with nuance and tension being swept away by another fairly forgettable action set piece finale.
That said, the first half here is truly excellent, with an intriguing power struggle at play during the interview between Agent Kira Sinclair and Abel as the pair match wits and feel each other out. Abel makes for a fascinating protagonist, particularly as the real machinations behind his “escape” from Black Forrest are gradually revealed, and while his present day self comes across as a stoic mix of Jack Bauer and Jason Bourne, the child version of him presented in the flashbacks is genuinely intriguing.
Subtly, Jordan has also done a great job of building up Cain – the leader of Black Forrest – as a legitimately terrifying threat, all while managing to keep him almost entirely unseen to this point. Which, when you consider how intimidating the other members of Black Forrest already are, is definitely saying something.
Moustafa’s artwork is solid and expressive throughout, as you’d likely expect from the Eisner nominated creator, although there are a couple of visual choices – such as the way he depicts muzzle flash and bullet impact – that detract somewhat from the overall aesthetic, in my opinion at least. He also adopts a somewhat sterile approach to corpses and dismembered body parts, making them look almost like mannequin parts at times, making one particular moment in the back of an ambulance come across as almost comical rather than terrifying as a result.
Ultimately, and much like the first issue, it’s the quieter moments of Savage Things that really resonate. Jordan has done an impressive job with his ‘soldier school for sociopathic children’ backstory, and the ultimate showdown between Cain and Abel is likely to be a gripping as a result, but the action sequences definitely feel more than little derivative and uninspired at times, which detracts somewhat from the overall package. Still definitely one to keep an eye on though, for sure.
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