Thursday, March 21, 2013

Comeback #5 Review

This week brings us to the end of Ed Brisson, Michael Walsh, and Jordie Bellaire's brilliant time travel / crime series. Yesterday saw Comeback #5 hit comic book stands everywhere, tying up the fascinating narrative they've been building since November of last year. While last issue saw lots of bodybags and fireworks, this issue might hold the greatest challenge for Mark and Seth yet. So how does it all shake out? Join me on the other side of the break to find out.

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

In its short existence, Comeback has become known for many things. Ed Brisson's concise and targeted writing, Michael Walsh's lean and laconic art, Jordie Bellaire's perfectly pointed colours, among many other things. One of those other things are the pristine white covers that have graced each and every issue, providing a gorgeous wrapping for each part of the story that told its own little narrative in one image. This month, that white background, switched out in favour of a striking red and black. I wondered at the meaning of that change when I first saw the cover in the March solicitations. Nothing in this title has happened without reason. As I expected, this arresting cover turn is no exception.

Over the course of a miniseries, you build certain expectations. Brisson, Walsh, and Bellaire's Comeback has been slowly (and then not so slowly) building up the amount of action in each and every issue until last month in Comeback #4 where they raised the bar to new heights with one mighty intense firefight that had some unexpected consequences. This week's issue follows up on those consequences, and in doing so, teaches a clinic in defying expectations.

Our creative team has seemingly gotten better in each and every issue, and this one is no exception. The story moves fast as it hurtles towards its conclusion, but there's no point where it feels like things are being rushed. The pacing is spot on, with lots of silent moments to set up scenes or emphasize atmosphere, and a fair share of big pages to emphasize those moments that need some emphasizing.

While the title has been all about the rising action, Comeback #5 switches gears so thoroughly that you almost might question if you're still in the same story. Instead of the extended moments of violence that we've seen, this final issue has but a few brief instances of violence. The difference is that they come out of nowhere and pierce the narrative like the staccato of a gun.

Walsh has been delivering fantastic panels from page 1 of the first issue, but Comeback #5 is easily his best work thus far. He renders every moment perfectly, nailing moments both loud and quiet. While there isn't as much gunplay as there has been in some previous issues, as I said above, what you get here is powerful and visceral. The parred down nature of Walsh's art means that it is never too gruesome, but there are definitely moments that stick with you. One character death in particular continues to resonate with me. It's harsh and awful and you can't look away, but there's a certain perverse beauty to it as well.

I also want to take a short moment to talk up this book's sound effects. When I spoke with Walsh near the release of Comeback #3, he mentioned how he had taken over the SFX lettering from Brisson, and while I have nothing against Brisson, I'm really glad that switch took place, because it's added a lot to the story. In a only a few issues, Walsh's SFX have already grown by leaps and bounds, and here in issue #5, there's instance of it all over the place. It's a small thing, but Walsh's efforts improve the story in a real way.

Of course, both Walsh's art and SFX have the enviable benefit of being coloured by the extremely talented (and prolific) Bellaire, who also delivers some of her best work here. When it comes to those moments of great action, she rises to the occasion, punctuating these scenes with the perfect colours to evoke the strongest reaction. There's a not insignificant amount of blood throughout this issue, and Bellaire delivers each and every time. When she renders that sticky substance, it's never the same. Depending on the details of the scene, it can be that bright crimson of the cover, a darker sludge, and anything in between. And unsurprisingly, she makes just as strong of a showing for herself in the rest of the issue.

Brisson doesn't hold hands in his storytelling. He gives lots of information to his reader, but that doesn't mean he's going to put all the pieces of the puzzle together for them. This has been the case throughout Comeback, but nowhere has it been as true as this concluding issue. With everything moving at such a quick clip, it can be challenging to keep track of everything that's going down, especially with the event that takes place at the very end of the issue. Those final moments are a lot quieter than you may have expected, but they make a certain amount of sense in the context of the whole story, even if it might not be exactly what you were expecting.

One of the ways that Brisson and company help the read along is by peppering Comeback #5 with lots of moments that echo scenes from earlier issues. There's some great symbolism to it, but it's also a nice little metatexual addition considering all the time travel that's been going down.

Verdict – Buy It. Ed Brisson, Michael Walsh, and Jordie Bellaire have come out of nowhere to deliver one of the best comic book miniseries in recent memory. The craftsmanship in every single aspect of this work, whether it's the writing, art, colours, or anything else, is some of the best you'll find. The major downside of this issue is that it's the last one, meaning that it's time to leave the world of Comeback behind us. Fortunately, that also means we can follow these talented creators to their next projects and enjoy their work there. I, for one, great look forward to it.

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Eric van Schaik said...

Because of your reviews I already ordered the TPB. Thanks.

Grant McLaughlin said...

I'm happy to do my small part in getting quality books into the hands of eager readers. :)

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