Part of the experience of the first issue of Cry Havoc is adjusting your expectations of how narratives usually go. The unorthodox choice to tell the story simultaneously in three phases means that readers have to, even if only subconsciously, come to terms with jumping around to different points in the narrative. The well-populated creative team has done a lovely job of making this temporal hop-around stand out as a story feature, and the story rarely feels as fragmented as it could have with less care. What I realized this issue is that one of the reasons I had some reservations, however minor, about the first issue was because this team was doing such a good job of putting together these temporally disparate narrative puzzle pieces that it was quietly adjusting the way I was reading the story as it went along. The second issue of this series reads incredibly smooth, especially considering how much interesting shit happens in each of the story's unique spatio-temporal compartments. It's not often (and perhaps not often enough) that a comic challenges my narrative expectations to the point that I have to worry about being subconsciously sold on something, but Spurrier is one for making the reader do healthy mental calisthenics in their engagement with his narratives. Doing so with an artist of Kelly's caliber and an army of colorists gives him quite the platform to continue this kind of work.
Cry Havoc #2 strikes me as being the issue where readers will be able to grasp exactly how excited they are about this series. The first issue floats around the edges of what this story has in store, but the second sends us headlong into a churning eddy of monster, myth, and... well, masturbation. The tripartite juxtaposition of the rote, repetitive London life, the shock of serving in Afghanistan, and the horrors of being held captive is executed to great effect by this three-pronged coloring team. What sets them up for success, however, are the more basic page elements, both in the story itself and in its construction, that really give this story its personality.
When I say, "rote, repetitive London life," I'm not just referring to some intangible feature of the story's feel: several sequences in London play out with visually repetitive elements. Now, these particular story beats aren't there to demonstrate the dull routine of mediocre city life, per se; but, they set a tone in the story that certainly could not be set in the more serious circumstances of its other locations. A tone, by the way, which comes crashing to a halt even right in London each time the reality of the main character's situation rears its head.
Other than pages that really set the tone in their approach to telling this story, Kelly's art has crescendoed from impinging the monstrous on the mundane to imposing it. What every piece of this story has in common is really this imposing bestial imagery. One look at the footnotes and it's easy to appreciate just how much juice Spurrier is mainlining into Cry Havoc through a membrane of extant folklore. Because of Kelly's haunting work in building these myths and monsters into this world, the footnotes function just as they should (as footnotes!), and the reader doesn't really need to know a god damn thing about Freyja to appreciate the appearance of this issue's cover star.
On top of everything else, this issue leaves the reader with a massive "OK; what the FUCK?" which is always nice. More than that, though, I think it leaves the reader waiting to see what other ways this creative team can succeed with this approach to storytelling.
Cry Havoc #2 Writer: Si Spurrier Artist: Ryan Kelly Colorist: Nick Filardi, Lee Loughridge, and Matt Wilson Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.99 Format: Mini-Series, Print/Digital