Writing and illustrating at the same time is difficult. Sure a lot of creators make it look easy or even if they don’t, most readers take it for granted. It’s two very different parts of the brain when you sit down and organize the details. The art wants one thing, the dialogue and narrative want another and it becomes one person’s job to battle both sides and make them work in tandem. Sometimes when that happens, great stories come about from this marriage of words and visuals. Great stories like Carver. The second issue of Carver starts off with two characters we haven’t seen before (edit: We have seen one of them, I just couldn't remember). I was a little confused at first as one of the men competently spoke about Carver. The other character is a writer and wants to “thank him” for his service, to which the other man snaps at him. This scene is good and establishes a lot of character background for Carver, but it was still a little jarring not knowing either of these characters or how they fit into the overall story.
After that we find Carver inside the restaurant that he was standing outside of at the end of the last issue. He walks up to a woman he recognizes instantly, but she doesn’t realize who he is at first. Then they have a heartfelt reunion and it’s an incredible character moment. This transitions into a flashback of Carver serving in the war. The flashback is great, but it’s the transition out of the flashback that’s wonderful. It could have been simple and traditional, but instead the art uses the medium to produce a wonderful page the illustrates the way Carver’s mind works. With a different writer/artist, this would have easily been missed.
The opening is a strange beast. On one hand it feels as if we missed a scene, but on the other hand… it feels right at home with the issue. Still, I think more people than not will wonder if they forgot or missed something from the first issue which is my only knock on the book.
Otherwise, Chris Hunt produces a second issue that nearly rivals the first. Carver is a deeply layered character and we see that through the flashback, through his tearful reunion and his quick fire response later at the restaurant. It’s not that we didn’t have an idea of his character after the first issue, quite the opposite really. Now though, he feels like an actual person. There’s so much to relate to with him that he’s not just a gun-toting manic trying to get a kid back, but a war-torn man that’s been changed by murder and so he lives his life the only way he can.
I’m not a big fan of when comic books use a black page to convey something. Usually it’s lazy creators being lazy and trying to cheat some aspect of the art. Hunt on the other hand, makes brilliant use of a semi-black page as he transitions from the flashback into the present. It’s not just a flashback, we actually journey back in Carver’s mind with him and then transition out with him. He’s there with us and that’s so amazing! No other medium can convey it quite like comics and Hunt is masterful with his execution of this. The black and white look suits the story and the world and keeps the story era appropriate.
I’m giving this issue a perfect score because I think even with the one bump in the road it’s better than 99% of all comics out there. Chris Hunt is showing master level abilities with his writing and artwork to the point that I would gladly place him up there with other such masters in the industry. You don’t have to take my word for it, you can check it out yourself. Or not. I get that there are a ton of comics out now. More and more every year it seems and the industry and fanbase as a whole are stuck solidly on superheroes. So if you manage to drop one superhero title this week in favor of something new, something different, then pick up Carver. Because it’s something great just waiting for you to discover it.
Carver: A Paris Story #2 Writer/Artist: Chris Hunt Publisher: Z2 Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 1/13/16 Format: Mini-Series; Print