by Antony Johnston, Justin Greenwood, and Shari Chankhamma

The Fuse continues to prove, month after month, that crime procedural stories are more than appropriate for the comic book medium. After setting out down a new path with this arc, Antony Johnston and Justin Greenwood return in issue eight to toss in a slew of new possible suspects and anecdotes about the case, as well as the universe and it’s a fantastic issue that expands both equally. Johnston certainly is including a number of layers to this case and it is making the experience of following along and trying to solve it all the more enthralling.

At the end of the previous issue, having witnessed a very exciting chase sequence thanks to the talent of Greenwood and colorist, Shari Chankhamma, it seemed as though Klem and Ralph had themselves a solid lead on who was behind the death of Cathy Huang. However, it does not take long in this issue to see the threads begin to unravel on that. Opening with the discussion of results from the Medical Examiner, the oddities and abnormalities with this case continue to stack up. Throughout the issue, and in keeping consistent with the series so far, a majority of the scenes are filled with panel after panel of ongoing dialogue exchanges. This creates a real challenge for Greenwood and Chankhamma to keep the sequences as visually interesting as possible. Several points in the book, the art team overlays a scene with a series of panels of different faces, shifting perspective and facial expressions to keep the pace and movement up. It’s an effective tactic that helps match the onslaught of discoveries and clues and avoids overlarge speech bubbles.

The introduction to the universe and the writing style in the first arc were both enticing components to make that chapter so successful. Here, the series has the risk of repeating itself and becoming formulaic. Instead Johnston strengthens the series by not only diving into an even more exciting and curious case, but continuing to find ways within that plot to expand the universe. In every sequence readers are progressing with the plot, learning new clues or elements to the case and experiencing and learning new facets of this space colony. The inclusion of these pieces is always handled very carefully and subtly. The end result is a further support of the lived-in sensibility to this world as the information is not provided through exposition that feels unnatural for characters who should know. Instead, they come through in very natural moments and conversations that just tease the greater universe that exist; it is as if the reader is viewing the world through a periscope that only can extend so far in any direction. There is a clear sense that there is even more just beyond the periphery and that notion, one that is not easy to capture, is exciting.

Antony Johnston has returned to Midway and brought a second arc that surpasses the first with a number of issues still to go. This excellent script and the subtle, yet effective artwork from Greenwood and Chankhamma lend further support to the argument for The Fuse being listed amongst the best new series of 2014.


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