by Antony Johnston, Justin Greenwood, and Shari Chankhamma
The real challenge in an ongoing story is to make sure the readers had enough of a reason to come back for the next issue. At the end of the previous issue of The Fuse, the big reveal as to who had been behind the major crime occurred. As a result the creative team was in a tough position to deliver an issue that is exciting and engaging with little left to discover. The remaining thread was a hostage situation, with the series lead held at gun point. Despite a few bumps, issue 6 manages to entertain and offer a new puzzle.
It was the mayor’s wife, Jennifer Swanson. Readers knew this coming into the issue and therefore one question remained. Why? Last issue, Ristovych had pieced together some major clues to come to this realization in a fantastic page by Greenwood and Chankhamma. With Klem held at gunpoint, readers are walked through the entire crime, motivation, and fallout over the majority of the issue. Johnston had managed to keep a number of players in the running for who may have pulled the trigger. The ability to keep the characters in story and the audience from making the discovery too soon is a challenge that the creative team handled well. The explanation of why Jennifer killed her brother-in-law and another cabler comes together in a somewhat confusing way. At first, it appears that it is simply to avoid the news story and blackmailing as Rocky is up for election. Johnston, however, pulls in other threads that had been hinted at to create a much deeper motivator.
As the issue progresses, the explanation that Jennifer Swanson offers the audience fits. Johnston has laid all of the pieces out over the previous issues in a way that follows to this logical end. However, there are a few aspects that, when explained in this issue, feel a bit too complicated. While blackmail may not be a great motivator to push a woman to murder, the real explanation is nearly as difficult to take in stride. The story, for the most part, manages to cut back and forth between the current standoff situation and the flashbacks. Periodically, tensions are raised a bit by returning to the Swanson home and the surrounding police force. However, Klem never quite feels in jeopardy in the scenario, and that takes a bit of the momentum away from the narrative.
Concluding this type of story, whether it is for television, movies, or books is regularly a challenge. Once the mystery is unveiled, the writers must find a way to resolution that maintains the momentum and engagement of what came before. Johnston does a decent job with the script in this issue. But the slightly complicated explanation paired with the somewhat unconvincing threat to Klem Ristovych makes the final chapter a bit less enthralling than what precedes it. Greenwood and Chankhamma continue to do solid work on the title. Between altering the coloring for flashbacks and choosing some good perspectives for the standoff sequences, the visual element remains well designed.
In its conclusion, the first arc of The Fuse is a strong one. The opening mystery is wrapped up well, and readers are even treated to an explanation as to why their shift is called “The Russia Shift,” with a very cool panel. It is an arc that established the series as one that proves its concept and is sure to bring readers back.