by Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire
A new story arc begins and with it a different central character. Injection #6 returns readers to the story through a more formal introduction to the character Vivek Headland. The rest of the group that had been gathered by Maria are absent in this issue. As such, there is no follow-up on many of the threads that were left at the end of the last arc. Even so, this new arc opens rather impressively and looks to head down a very different path.
Vivek Headland, from his dress and posture through the naming of the rooms in his home, is a very peculiar individual. He was only barely present in the first arc of this series. Readers could not gain much more of a sense of him beyond his mere presence. And yet, the depiction of him by Shalvey and Bellaire gave readers enough to be curious. Here, the creative team introduces Mr. Headland as the series begins a new tale. Mr. Headland meets a man by the name of John Van Der Zee in his home and learns of a very odd mystery concerning the man’s wife and son. It is a strange encounter, no doubt, but the book’s main plot is mostly filled with conversation between Mr. Headland and Mr. Van Der Zee. However, the book maintains momentum through its short cut-away scenes.
Periodically, issues will lean more heavily on dialogue and conversation, sometimes confining a large part of the issue to a single location. Often, it is in the nuances of the conversation and the art direction that these chapters rely on in order to avoid feeling sluggish or overstuffed. Here, the creators maintain excellent pace, and simultaneously further explore the character of Mr. Headland and those around him. Shalvey’s depiction of the central character, from shifts in his facial expressions to the way he has decorated his house are wonderful. In a way, Vivek acts quite unlike a human being. This is not to say he appears robotic, though he does feel alien. In a few moments, the issue features panels that capture how Vivek is reading movements in the room. The panels transition to black and white, and appear someone abstract. These further the unsettling and cold vibe that Vivek gives off.
Jordie Bellaire’s colors have been impressive in each issue so far. Here, they help add even more layers to the book’s new central figure. Not only does Shalvey design the insides of the man’s home in a way unlike any other home, but Bellaire’s color choices really add a wonderful touch. When Vivek meets with Mr. Van Der Zee, they do so in an area labeled, ‘The Human Room.’ According to Vivek, the room was designed to create a sense of comfort by including pieces of a wide array of items that people find calming. This is not how any person would describe the room. Bellaire drapes the room in deep colors and it is a wonder if there is any more than a single light source. It creates a very strange mood to the scene, but makes the encounter all more effective. As the book cuts away to the staff and kitchen, the aesthetic almost completely inverts, with almost every surface and appliance holding an unnaturally white color.
Ellis, meanwhile, has an incredible voice for the character. It’s a wonderful narrative shift from the first arc and manages to be captivating almost immediately. After a few quick glimpses of his early education and the different ways he presents when speaking to different characters, Mr. Headland makes for a great new focal point. While the pacing choices are very important to keep the chapter’s urgency high, Vivek Headland is so unique that his mannerisms could almost captivate all on their own. In the final moments of the chapter, as Vivek follows up on his first clue, readers will undoubtedly be thrilled to follow him on this new story.
Injection #6 returns to an incredibly rich universe through brand new eyes and only improves upon its excellent first arc. With some very interesting artistic choices, showcasing how Vivek perceives his surroundings, along with some truly stunning panels detailing his past, Injection has proven that it can continue to raise the bar and subsequently deliver.