Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Jason Howard
Release Date: 14th November 2018
The chase to capture Michael Blackburn and Grace Moody continues. They’re out of the tunnels and into Second Stage where they face the horrors of the Outerfamily and the continued dogged pursuit by the President’s troops on their way to safety.
A couple of months ago I reviewed the first issue of Cemetery Beach and promised an insane action-packed romp that wouldn’t let up until the final issue. Three issues in and I’m exhausted. This has to be the longest continuous chase scene in the history of long, continuous chase scenes.
Where the first two issues have thrilled with their non-stop action and dizzying chase scenes, I’m starting to get to the point where I’m wondering if there’s anything else to this story. We’ve had snippets of information about the motivations of the various protagonists/ antagonists, but the character development is thin, and it’s taken three issues to glean even the most basic plot progression.
I mentioned in my previous review that Jason Howard specifically asked for an action comic and you can’t deny that this is definitely action packed. Howard is clearly having a huge amount of fun and this is reflected in the quality of the artwork that’s poured into each issue. The seamless transition from panel to panel and page to page, as Blackburn and Moody careen from one crisis to another is breathtaking, and there’s never a point where the artwork suffers or feels particularly repetitive.
I’m wondering however if the constraints of the genre are hampering Warren Ellis’ creative flow. The narrative and style are so far removed from the works I’ve loved from him over the years that it’s a real worry how the rest of this series is going to turn out. The rapport between Blackburn and Moody is good, as is the sense of humour in the face of the overwhelming odds they face, but there just isn’t any real depth to the characters or the plot. Where I was hoping for a grand Machiavellian villain, The President is at this point a very one-dimensional despot whose entire motivation seems to be greed. Even what should have been a poignant moment where Blackburn reveals some of his backstory felt rushed and shallow.
To reiterate comments from my previous review, the ‘80s child in me loves the over the top action and Howard’s style in rendering this world is fantastic but I don’t know whether Ellis has the stamina to keep pace with his vision. Fingers crossed that going forward Ellis gets back the magic that I’ve known and loved for the last twenty years.
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek