by Rafael Albuquerque and Mike Johnson
What is The Meld? Where is The Meld? Or maybe, most importantly, when is The Meld? Rafael Albuquerque and Mike Johnson have launched a new series through Dark Horse Comics and after two issues, the book is certainly turning heads. Ei8ht is the story of a man sent on a mission, with the motivation to save someone he loves. With stories transpiring in several locations and times, this new series is bold and engaging and definitely worth seeking out for those familiar with the creators.
Using a bit of a “fish out of water” approach to the first issue, readers were able to dive into a story that was very much in motion through the eyes of the lead. There are a number of featured characters, concepts and terms on display in the series early on, and yet the book does not overwhelm. Albuquerque and Johnson have managed to present issues that are somewhat opaque, but never to the point of frustration or distraction for the reader. In issue two, the story spends more time explaining, filling in and creating a bit of context for some of the elements introduced last month.
Ei8ht utilizes a pragmatic and curious color code to designate the present plot and time of the panels transpiring. In issue two, the story opens amidst a severe lightning storm, drenched in purple. The flat backing color denotes a story in the present day, as Dr. Hamm insists that the plane’s crew hold steady in the storm and not retreat from it. The insistence is strange, certainly, but readers are given no indication of just what the man is seeking or attempting to do. Meanwhile, Hari and Nila act as great sources of information for the reader in providing some insight into The Meld.
Creating a new universe, especially one that is meant to exist in conjunction with today’s reality can be a significant challenge. This story, in particular, sets itself up with a number of restrictions, placing elements of it in the past, present, future and alternate universe. But Albuquerque and Johnson do an excellent job of handling such a task. The creators manage to find a way to never focus too much on any piece of technology or historical element that would indicate or contradict a given era in human history. The use of colors and character designs act as the main differences between the weaving plots. As the second issue progresses, there are a number of very interesting overlaps that seem to arise, including some individuals who have made their way into The Meld, and yet seem to be in existence elsewhere.
It is absolutely unclear just what the creators have in mind for the series as of yet. This type of book looks as though it will choose exactly when and how readers will be let in on its many secrets. Fortunately, the unique premise and excellent art have created a strong base to build from. Fans of Albuquerque’s talents will have reason enough to stick around. For others, the concepts at work here are refreshing and confident. This, certainly, is a series to watch.