With issue 3 of Ei8ht this week, we’re approaching and the immediately over the hump of the midway point of the series (supposedly--I haven’t been able to find anything concrete or official saying it’s 5 issues, but that’s the number I’m hearing tossed around). After a quick expository speech about what the Meld actually is, the issue jumps into the action proper with the Tyrant and the Spear discussing the unleashing of the Scourge upon the rebel camps, hoping to save Joshua aside to teach them how to use his ship and spread their tyranny to all corners of space and time. Nila’s little brother Hari relays this message to the rebel elders, and Joshua and Nila decide to take events into their own hands.
This issue does a lot of braiding the storylines together so that the strands still exist and they point in new directions. In other words, it’s a fairly classic midpoint in a well-made structure. I’m not trying to belittle this or anything; in fact, the opposite. I think if you’re going to do a book with a high concept like Ei8ht’s color-coding, grounding it in a structure that makes sense to the majority of people opens it up as a real exercise in form, rather than willful obfuscation.
One way the issue really manages to bring things to barebones is the series’ reliance on metonymic titles, like The Spear, The Tyrant, The Scourge, etc. This is not a long series, full of nuanced villains and redeemable people, this is a comic book whose villain probably bunked with Eddie Redmayne from Jupiter Ascending in college. People, especially in the Meld, can be concepts, and that doesn’t cheapen them, or make them less threatening, but it makes it easier to talk about them.
Albuquerque’s art, as per usual, is beyond reproach in this issue. It spends most of its time in the Meld, with slight ventures into the past and the future (only the people in this book seem to be purple, i.e. the present. It seems like they’re saying that the only place the present truly exists is in the minds of people living it, and I kind of love that idea). Albuquerque does a great job of giving people dynamic expressions without them all devolving into Kirby-ish tropes of people who are always either shouting concernedly or standing silently; each character is looking down their nose at someone, or smiling but in a scared way, or acting tougher and older than they are. He has somehow mastered that elusive art of conveying entire sweeping gestures in a static panel, in this medium where truly showing someone walking through a door takes three panels. He’s got it in one.
My only beef with this story so far hearkens back to the well-made story structure. While I like using that as an entryway, it does allow the audience to get ahead of the story sometimes, and especially with a story about time travel and alternate dimensions, the audience desperately wants to be surprised by the author. If the audience is smarter than the author, we can pick out reveals, like who Joshua’s wife in the future is, and we can make some educated guesses as to the true identity and troubled past of the Spear. I don’t know how much of that problem comes from this book coming out monthly, where you get 30 days to come up with theories and discount them, rather than an OGN format, where you’re just along for the ride, but I think that maybe will help. Once this is collected, and you strap in for the ride, unless you have a huge problem turning off your critical brain, it is easier to pick up the pieces as you go along and figure out things as the characters do. I guess all I’m saying is I know I can’t have my cake and eat it too, but it would be kind of nice.
But that’s all a moot point, the wouldn’t-it-be-nice-if’s. Ei8ht is super fun sci-fi, illustrated by an artist at the top of his game, and with a charming script behind it. Don’t be the one who has to wait months for the trade of this one to come out.
Ei8ht #3 Story: Rafael Albuquerque & Mike Johnson Script: Mike Johnson Art & Colors: Rafael Albuquerque Letters: Nate Piekos of Blambot Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 4/15/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital