Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Comeback #2 Review

Tomorrow sees the release of the second issue of Ed Brisson and Michael Walsh's absolutely brilliant new series, Comeback.  Equal parts a crime and time travel story, Comeback focuses in on one of the smaller time travel crimes: using the technology to save the lives of those who have died before their time.  Add to that Ed Brisson's terse and calculated writing, Michael Walsh's gorgeous art, and Jordie Bellaire's brilliant colours, and you have yourself one heck of a new series.
If you somehow missed the first issue last month, don't worry your pretty little head: Comixology has Comeback #1 available to read free of charge, so you should probably go do that now.  Heck, even if you've already gone through the issue, why not read it again.
Don't mind me.  Whenever you're ready, I'll be waiting for you on the other side of the cut to tell you all about why you should be making plans to pick up Comeback #2 on the morrow.

Written by Ed Brisson
Art by Michael Walsh
Colours by Jordie Bellaire

So, as I'm sure you've just seen (or saw last month), Comeback #1 was pretty great.  You've got the high concept of Reconnect, a shady organization that uses time travel to save the loved ones of their clients from untimely demises, a nice hook with the limitations placed on time travel itself, and well, let's just say that things aren't exactly as they seem.

As you well know, seeing as you obviously went and downloaded the opener and read it through (for free) already.

All of which brings us to issue #2, and while you have to wait until tomorrow to see for yourself, I have some good news: Comeback #2 is just as good as #1.  Scratch that, it's better.
Comeback #1 was a solid opener, but I would argue that Comeback #2 is a better overall issue.  It builds perfectly on everything that Brisson established in the opener.  The issues pushes forward in the most organic manner, and before you know it, everything has gone sideways and the stakes have been raised through the roof.
Brisson is the master of information dissemination here. He offers a constant trickle of info throughout the issue, split between the various characters and storylines that he established back in issue #1. The end result is the reader ends up with lots of little gems of insight into various parts of this world, but it’s not yet enough to see the whole picture. The reader is left understanding that things are bad, and getting worse, while also feeling like what’s happening is only the tip of the iceberg.

Such a strategy would be maddeningly frustrating in the hands of a lesser writer, but Brisson handles it masterfully here, using these small tastes to increase tension bit by bit.

And Brisson truly is a master here. He demonstrated a great understanding of the genre conventions of both crime and time travel stories last issue, and that understanding is even more evident this second time around. Brisson has a complete handle on every aspect of this world, and it shows in the book’s writing. This book feels so tightly plotted that you could set a watch to it, and it manages this feat without coming off as artificial, which is an accomplishment in itself.

And in a story that literally revolves around time travel, that’s the kind of control that you need. A light enough touch for things to flow, with a strong enough grasp to ensure that they don’t get away from you, two things that Brisson has in spades here. There’s a possible switcheroo that may or may not actually occur in this issue that’s a great example of this. Whether or not it did occur is almost immaterial, as the possibility is more than enough to keep the reader on their toes.
It also definitely helps that Brisson has given us some excellent characters to follow. Mark and Seth, our two time travelling protagonists, are some of the roundest characters around. They’re both likeable enough guys, but what makes them interesting is that they both have real faults and failings, just like real people. Seth’s impulsive and looks to be coming apart at the seams, while Mark is maybe just a little too good-natured and trusting for his own good. Suffice it to say that all the sidewasery going on in this issue doesn’t mix well with these two. And that’s without mentioning Simon Tanaka, the FBI agent investigating Reconnect, who looks like he’ll be a major headache for our duo. That’s unless Owen – one of Reconnect’s heavy-hitting enforcers – doesn’t have a say in things. And he very well may.

I’m also happy to report that the art is just as good as the writing. Of course, seeing as you’ve obviously read issue #1, you already know how good Michael Walsh can be. A warning: he, too, is better in the second issue. In a word, Walsh is brilliant. While Comeback is his first comic from a major publisher, it’s clear he’s been working at his craft long and hard. He knocks every single thing Brisson puts in front of him right out of the park. There aren’t any set pieces quite as striking as Mark time traveling with Mr. Fields, but Walsh nonetheless nails every single moment in the issue. He brings the perfect style to this book, combining equal parts Sean Phillips, Chris Samnee, and Michael Lark without feeling derivative.  Instead, Walsh’s work feels inspired by these creators and but not limited by them.

Equal kudos must be given to the insanely-talented Jordie Bellaire who is off the hook here. Her colours are strong and vibrant, making every panel better and more complete through her contribution. I’ve been particularly impressed by the way she emphasizes specific moods and atmospheres in every scene through her use of colours. It’s a subtle thing, but every scene has an overriding colour-scheme and they are all the better for it.

Verdict – Must Read.  With all these talented people working together, the real winner is the reader, because Bellaire, Walsh, and Brisson’s chemistry is magical.  One of the characters in this issue talks about how Reconnect “want[s] us to stay in the dark”. The same is true of what Comeback wants of its readers. But while Reconnect would like this for presumably nefarious reasons, Brisson and company simply want to tell the best story they can. Thus far, they’re succeeding.

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