I’m not really sure what’s up with the delays on this series but it’s starting to affect the book. Usually I don’t like pointing out when a book is delayed because it shouldn’t have anything to do with the quality of the issue and fans will decide for themselves if they like it enough to continue to follow it. In this case the delay has completely stolen the thunder of this issue. It could have been very impactful, but instead it’s forced to remind you of everything that’s happening in the series so that the reveals aren’t completely lost on you. That and it felt like Spencer was away from the characters for too long and forgot their personalities and charms that made them special. There was also a sharp difference in the tonality of this issue as it didn’t really feel like Fillmore and Detective Acevedo’s show anymore, but rather the First’s. The story itself begins in the same way with Madder Red in the past, but he’s less charismatic now and the scene really comes across as being forced upon the story even though we learn its relevancy later on in the issue.
In the modern timeline we begin with Councilman Severin who has had a larger role in this story arc, we also learn later on in the issue why that is. It’s basically all just a set up to establish his character more and so on and so forth and really that’s the only purpose it served. We then finally check in with Fillmore and Acevedo who are on the scene of the mass suicide that’s not actually a suicide. Here’s my problem with this scene, no bodies have been collected and all the other cops are staying back while they check it out which is basically bullshit. After that Fillmore figures out what’s happened in two seconds flat which really didn’t play to his criminal genius as well as you’d think.
This issue is probably the worst in the series thus far and it’s a real shame. I was glad to see its return, but I held back excitement since it’s been so long since the last issue. With that said I was able to go in with a fresh perspective, but instead of finding all the things that made the series unique and enjoyable I ended up finding a rushed sloppy mess that had glimpses of the personality from its former self. It’s like night and day between issue eight and nine and that made for a terrible reading experience. The one thing that can make a delay tolerable is being able to jump right in like you never left, but what happened here was clumsy and stiff.
I know that Browne is trying to maintain some of Rossmo’s look for the series and thus far I haven’t had any problems with that, but this issue is an entirely different story. His art work looks rushed in a lot of panels and so the extra squiggle lines feel like extra squiggle lines rather than a stylistic approach to the artwork. At this point I’d rather see a shift in the art style that better suits Browne, rather than his rushed attempt at keeping a consistent look for the series. Especially considering the long gaps in production; though I’m betting that the team is now thinking more about the trade for the story arc then they are the single issues.
I don’t know what the future holds for this series. There was one big reveal for the issue that ended falling a bit flat and then a cliffhanger that wasn’t as impactful because you don’t know when the follow-up will come. Hopefully the charm of Fillmore and Madder Red is recaptured in the next issue because there was none here. It felt like a hollow version and I’m not down with following the series if that’s the new norm.
Writer: Nick Spencer Artist: Ryan Browne Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 10/2/13