Review: Cry Havoc #3

Kelly's best work on the title yet is matched blow for blow by the colorist team, Wilson and Filardi in particular. The page layouts in Cry Havoc so far have been fairly metronomic.  Those paying attention (either enough to notice on their own or from reading Si's annotations, which I have more to say about) will notice that the panel grids differ between their default design in the story's three sections.  In London, things are paced a bit more quickly, which lends itself to the heavy dialogue, familiar backdrop, and quick drives towards Louise's transformations.  In Afghanistan, the grids are looser, allowing for more landscape work and more fluctuation between conversation, combat, and commentary.  The Red Place contains four panels maximum, leaving room for Si to pipe in his meta-narrative filling (this is an odd sentence I am writing), as well giving the reader time to look around and ponder what's really going on in these pages.

Cry-Havoc-#3-1The pacing that emerges from putting these things together is often perfectly fine, but sometimes frustrating.  One thing I really enjoy is the way that things slow down for the reader during the Red Place sections,  while also hardly feeling like a break because of how mysterious and full of oddities The Red Place scenes are.  Another success of the very deliberate pace of this series is the way that the creative team earns its spreads.  As it has been since issue one, Kelly doesn't fuck around when he gets a chance to devote a whole page to some type of odd beast.  The Wilson-assisted spread alluded to by the cover is just one outstanding page in this issue.

The frustrating part is that the deliberate pace is often comprised of a very deliberate shape.  Panel layouts are reasonably variable in general, but the uniformity of each section and the ironclad pace will make the reader feel a little claustrophobic.  Even counting the one early shocking moment in The Red Place where panels undergo a rare skew, there are essentially only four exact panel varieties in this book.  Given how everything else about this book is fairly experimental, that might be the oddest thing about it.

Something that stuck out to me last issue were Si's annotations at the end of the book.  Each issue he has been unpacking certain visual or dialogic allusions or outright references after the story of that issue comes to a close.  For some, this might seem like an odd choice: if you're going to write something so densely or obtusely that it needs to be unwrapped by the creator at the end of the book, maybe something is going wrong.  I can't imagine, for instance, him having done this for another one of his dense works, Six-Gun Gorilla, which was also a story that was very much about stories.

The difference is interesting and important, though.  Six-Gun Gorilla was about other stories in a very general way: it was a statement about any and all stories.  Where Cry Havoc does currently have some similar meta-threads developing, it is also very directly and decisively a story about specific other stories.  You could argue at the very center of this story along with whatever it is that Louise is really going through is a story built on the back of genuine folkloric bits and pieces.  When considered as such, Si's annotations come off less like "let me explain" and more like an acknowledgment of the fact that these are campfire stories through-and-through, and it gives Cry Havoc an equivalent sort of campfire feel.

[button btn_url="" btn_color="teal" btn_size="large" btn_style="default" btn_outlined="no" link_target="self" link_rel="" icon_left="Score: 4/5" icon_right="Score: 4/5"]Score: 4/5[/button]

Cry Havoc #3 Writer: Si Spurrier Artist: Ryan Kelly Colorist: Nick Filardi, Lee Loughridge, and Matt Wilson Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 3/23/16 Format: Mini-Series, Print/Digital