High Crimes #6
by Christopher Sebela & Ibrahim Moustafa
High Crimes #6 brings the exciting Monkeybrain series back after a few months away. As the last issue concluded, Zan was in a race to the summit with members of The Strange Agents who had kidnapped her friend, Haskell. A shootout caused an icefall and that’s where the story picks up. Sebela and Moustafa have been elevating the series with each issue, and it is no surprise that issue six maintains that quality.
In the opening of the issue, Zan reflects on the types of dangers people are prefaced on only to scoff at them. The more times a person does something, the more often they believe they are not at risk. Here, Sebela draws a parallel to people’s perception on danger with traveling by plane. People do typically feel a sense of invisibility the more they travel, and it is only when their direct reality is affected that they are reminded of their mortality.
The story continues to shift back and forth between Zan and Sullivan Mars. If Sebela does well with linking moments together, he shines in finding ways to parallel Zan’s life story with that of Mars’. The two characters share almost nothing in common, and yet their path seems almost identical in how Sebela continues to intertwine the journal of Sullivan Mars with the present story. It is not just the parallels that carry weight, but the application of some of the messages Sebela plays with to the audience. Themes of redemption, motivation, betrayal and deception are all common and have a tendency to make a connection to the reader.
Moustafa continues to be a great pairing to Sebela’s scripts. This is a setting where much of the terrain is white and there is little else to portray outside of the characters. There is a great possibility for panels to be dull in their simplicity and a challenge to pacing out scenes, especially when they only depict individuals conversing. However, Moustafa has a great sense of layouts. He also uses elements in the surroundings to keep each panel feeling fresh. As the characters pass through a section referred to as The Valley of Silence, Moustafa pulls back and it reminds readers just how small and powerless these character truly are when it comes to the environment of Mount Everest.
The story comes full circle with a closing moment that almost feels more impactful, but in a much more subtle way, as a counter to that sense of invisibility that Zan reflected on. Though the on-screen events of this issue stay a bit more even-keel, it is a very well done issue and takes a moment to remind readers that the easiest parts of this journey are in the past. It’s only going to increase in danger, tension, and likely in quality of storytelling as High Crimes moves into the second half of its tale.