by Antony Johnston, Justin Greenwood, and Shari Chankhamma
There is something different about this arc of The Fuse. From the very beginning, Johnston began imbedding the issues with a grander sensibility. The world of The Fuse continues to grow. Each issue of the second arc has managed to add pieces to the space station city, be it cast members, areas or terms. Though Johnston and Greenwood did a great job establishing the world of Midway City and many of its elements, it is through the second story arc that the universe has truly developed into something beyond a setting. The Fuse Space Station is becoming as much a part of the story as any one character. As this arc nears its conclusion, the story sprinkles in a few more clues.
Picking up exactly where issue 10 left off, Klem and Ralph are facing a brand new crime and just another complication to add to a wide array of evidence that seemingly points to no one in particular. Johnston has given readers a few very worthy characters to pin the crime on, and seemingly each is more sleazy than the last. One thing that is felt in this issue is that the story is wrapping up. Despite no clear picture still, the story finds its way back through a number of suspects and settings. With the phone in hand, a new body and a mountain of inconclusive evidence, Klem and Ralph seem as close to an answer as they did in issue 7. While the detectives attempt to retrace their steps, Bianca inspects the body of Allison Kuang.
For much of The Fuse, Justin Greenwood and Shari Chankhamma keep the art relatively to form. The structure allows the story to keep focus, lending a reliable framework over which a maze of clues can be placed. In one scene during this issue, the pair layout a series of panels that zig-zag across the page depicting the actions of Bianca as she tests a number of things for this case. It is a funny scene, all things considered, as Greenwood shows the medical examiner transition from serious actions to dancing about. But the layout of the page is rather odd. The circle panels in bright green shifting back and forth to cover Bianca’s movements are a strange choice for the scene and are definitely different from the book’s usual appearance. Readers of the series will notice how much the scene stands out immediately. It is a relatively low impact scene that is mostly fun for its content. However, its construction ends up making the page stick out. Outside of this, the issue falls in line with those previous, with strong art that holds the book together, keeping the colors a bit muted and restraining from anything too stylized thus allowing the story to unfold. This balance of writing and art that the creators have established is quite impressive.
Still, as the issues develop, the most enjoyable aspect of the book is Klem. The heart of any serialized crime story is in its central detectives. Johnston’s writing, and the design by Greenwood and Chankhamma all work to depict a hardened veteran on the force who is as dry as sandpaper. Klem’s moments of levity are always highlights in an issue, and some of her banter with Ralph and the other minor characters create some of the best panels. When Klem reduces the bickering to a competition of manhood, Johnston shows readers just how elegantly he has crafted each character, personality and voice.
From the very start, The Fuse has been able to raise the bar each time for what it means to have a dynamic and rounded set of central characters that readers will follow through any adventure. As this issue seems to indicate that the detectives have figured it all out, readers will be anxiously awaiting the finale of another excellent arc.