by Rafael Albuquerque and Mike Johnson
Rafael Albuquerque and Mike Johnson launched Ei8ht a few months ago. The series led with a strange color map indicating several eras that would be depicted and a strange teaser about something called The Meld. This month, the book’s fourth issue hits stores and the series is nearing the end. The penultimate issue begins to tie things together significantly and is likely the strongest chapter thus far.
Last time, Joshua came face to face with The Spear in the final moments. Albuquerque ended the issue on a major climax, sending Nila through time and allowing Joshua to regain awareness about his mission. The fourth issue picks up soon after and everything has become clear to Joshua. For readers, the goals and the events of the universe at large are spelled out here. With only one issue to go, Albuquerque is definitely pressing down on the gas a bit here. In a way, then, the fourth issue feels a bit heavy in the amount of information offered to fill in the gaps about the larger plot and personal motivations. However, credit is due to Albuquerque and Johnson as the issue really never feels weighed down by this type of writing. Though many of the elements of this issue involve some bit of fill in to the many mysteries at play, the excitement of the reveals is apparent throughout.
When the plot shifts to the distant past, the book not only presents the readers with many of the major world events that led to the universe presented in Ei8ht, but also readers see a plot element from the first issue come full circle. While in the moment of that issue the situation felt strange, many readers have probably discarded that oddity. However, the creators bring that moment back here, shedding light on what really occurred in that moment. It is a very cool moment in the issue and the story as a whole. When something similar occurs pages later, there is an even more curious layer added to the mechanics and rules of these timelines and the overall structure of the universe in The Meld.
Throughout all of this, the illustrations and colors hold the story together. Never wasting time or space to explain to the readers where the story is presently, Albuquerque’s shifting color palettes work very well. Not only do they make effective use of space, but they often add to the tone of the scene and events occurring. Albuquerque is fantastic with his pacing and emoting. When Joshua is shackled in the cell with The Spear, the intensity visible in his face and body language convey so much information that the reader can absolutely feel every word being shouted. A few pages later Hari comes swooping in and the excitement of the moment may cause some to fist pump, shout, or even toss their comic across the room. Just try not to throw a tablet for the more digitally inclined.
All in all, Ei8ht #4 is a really solid issue. Albuquerque and Johnson put together the best chapter in the series thus far. With only one issue to go, there is still a lot to see. But if the momentum and events of this issue are any indication, readers are in for a real treat next month.