by Ed Brisson, Johnnie Christmas & Shari Chankhamma
On the heels of the announcement that the series would be ending after the next arc at issue #15, Sheltered #10 looks to end the second act of the story. The children of Safe Haven have been faced with an unexpected threat to their society just as there is significant unrest amongst the followers about just what it is they have been convinced to do. As Nancy points out, grimly, to leave and admit they were wrong is to admit to everything they have done and believed was right. Sometimes there really is no turning back.
The cover to the tenth issue of Sheltered is incredibly devastating to witness. Readers will be paging through this issue just waiting for the moment featured on the front to come about. For that reason alone, the choice to feature such devastation so boldly was an excellent choice. Brisson and Christmas have been excellent and building up tension and proving that no one is safe in this series from the first issue, and this cover makes each page turn all the more suspenseful. The issue opens with a bit of recapping, showing the characters and where they are after the events of issue nine, a quick reminder of what has come to pass. As Cliff drives off in hopes of reaching safety, the factions back at camp debate what is to be done next. How can a character trust another when there is almost nothing stopping them from murder? That is the scenario Brisson and Christmas have created and it works wonderfully.
In this issue, a majority of the scenes are filled with conversations in small groups. The members of safe haven have divided into many groups and gather to discuss what should be done in secret. Joey attempts to lecture Lucas on what should be done to those that pose a threat, while others debate if they can escape and what they would do if they were to leave. Trust continues to crumble along with any shred of patience that remains amongst these children. Fear is the only constant amongst the remaining cast. Brisson writes some of the best interactions of the series so far. There are choices that cannot be undone and witnessing the fallout of that has been quite extraordinary. With the end of the series now looming, readers will both crave and fear the revelation of Lucas’ plans. Meanwhile, Hilary, Victoria and Tab pose a threat that many refuse to sit idly by and allow.
Sheltered has been impressive in it’s ability to remain intimate without feeling slow at any time. Brisson does have a bit of a challenge in the size of the cast. There are many children who appear in this issue that have yet to receive much attention and it makes them mostly just fill in voices to the issue. While the main cast has been well developed, having the number of individuals populating the grounds as are present in Sheltered will always pose a bit of a problem when it comes to development. It is a small complaint, but one that does come into play in an issue when some of these children seem to provide influence. Issue ten, though, features some excellent moments and functions as a very good finale to the second act. Johnnie Christmas maintains a great tone and pace through his artwork and it is excellently complemented by colorist, Shari Chankhamma. If this creative team can maintain this quality for another five issues, then this series is bound to culminate spectacularly.