by Antony Johnston, Justin Greenwood, Shari Chankhamma
Reaching the midway point into this third arc, The Fuse is breaking new territory and feeling like a fresh series with characters readers have gotten to know over the past two arcs. In the first ten issues, the book took a slow-burn approach letting readers really get a sense for the tone and the personalities that makeup the world. In this third arc, the book is spending less time with its lead duo, instead expanding to the police force and the city as a whole. Midway through the arc, the dominoes have started to fall and the tension is impressively high.
The ITEM alerts are a major part of the story, despite feeling almost inconsequential at times. Instead, they not only have a very real function for the narrative, but they also showcase the attention to detail that Johnston has to the approach of this title. This third arc has shifted its central focus to that of the city and its police force on this chaotic day, and the alerts keep readers clued into that, feeling the size of the city and the challenges constantly facing the MCPD. Johnston is able to weigh on the readers a real sense of exhaustion and anxiety by introducing so many possible concerns for the MCPD to face on a day where people are already on edge and expecting mischief. This is further echoed by the art approach. Greenwood’s layouts when these shifts occur, when the story cuts to alerts and showcases incidents elsewhere, matched by Chankhamma’s color palette work in conjunction to keep readers from ever settling in.
The pacing of the entire reading experience is remarkable, page after page. There are just so many leads to follow, and even as readers start to see some progress on a few of the cases, the speed of it all causes Ralph to miss one of the criminals as he walks right by the detective. Even still, there is definite progress to the numerous threads in the arc. Readers meet a potential victim of the serial killer and learn just a bit more about his very strange and unsettling methods. And despite one of the threats being neutralized, the false alarm only feels like something much worse lies ahead.
The Fuse is a book that feels like a seamless fusion of art and writing into one very smooth production. As such, the story has very few moments of flair for any one of its creative pieces. When the Mayor shows readers just how cowardly and shallow he really is, Klem’s son has a fantastic moment to shine. The minor character really comes through here with a few simple lines that leave the Mayor with really only one option. Despite this excellent bit, the scene is short and without any real flair in how things are presented or delivered. Still, Johnston’s handle on his characters, along with art that seems to always match every beat results in an end product that has managed to maintain and improve upon its own quality with each issue. Heading into the penultimate issue of the arc, The Fuse impresses yet again.