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Skybreaker #5

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by Michael Moreci, Drew Zucker and Ryan Ferrier

This story has been building since the first issue, and Michael Moreci has proven his ability to control and pace it throughout. Skybreaker, a revenge tale set in the old west, has maintained an intimate cast and setting over the course of its five issues. The close proximity of all of the players adds one more layer of tension and proves a great choice. General Taylor has taken the town, the other factions have banded together and a plan is in motion.

What has been fascinating over the chapters of Skybreaker is how little redeeming qualities exist with each member of the cast. Just as those in the story must identify the least of the evils, readers have also been shown that time and again that each of these individuals has a taste for violence and are capable of ugliness. As a reminder of who is topping the charts, the story opens with a flashback of Barek when he was still a member of General Taylor’s cavalry. Taylor reflects on how mankind may be better left in carnage than continue along its current path. As the scene closes, Taylor leaves a man in the desert with only his head unburied and a canteen just far enough away. Drew Zucker, series artist, pulls back over a few panels to highlight the starkness of the situation and the callousness of Taylor.

Back to present and the rogue group made up of unlikely alliances formulate a plan to be rid of this man. They are incredibly outnumbered and it makes for great writing. Every aspect of the plan must work if they are to be successful. This is where Moreci’s pacing and control shines. The unrest and distrust, sometimes bordering on murderous drives, between these individuals makes their reliance on each other all the more effective. It’s unlikely that any of these men would trust each other and yet their only choice is to do just that. From the start, it appears this tale has rested on a growing thickness of tension and Moreci finds ways to realistically build on it relentlessly.

In the finale issue of Skybreaker, a few elements do not hit as hard as they could. Some pieces line up a bit more conveniently than they need to and a few sequences are a bit challenging to follow. But that does not undercut the fantastic work that has been put to page. Moreci’s script includes some of his best choices for the world thus far, and Zucker portrays almost every sequence well. A series of panels that feature a lot of dialogue manage to shift perspective so effectively that each panel depicts an entirely unique vantage point. Zucker showcases his sense of space and awareness and never takes a short cut. And in the stories greatest climax, all the world falls away but the central focus and this erosion to just the core is an excellent complement.

The climax of the story of Skybreaker is a long time coming. All the players find themselves in place and Moreci scripts the tale to provide a moment of calm before gunpowder and blood fill the air. Readers may even find themselves pausing with the story to brace for what is to come. Tension releases, readers exhale, and it makes for a satisfying conclusion. Could there be more? Do Moreci and Zucker have another tale to tell in this well crafted universe? The real question is: could we be so lucky?

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