Review: Ei8ht #4

The penultimate issue of Ei8ht is here, and it answers just about all the questions you’d want answered. Whether or not that’s a good idea for the next-to-last issue instead of the last issue is up to you. So as of the last issue, Joshua is still stuck in the Meld with Hari, having just escaped from the Spear’s captivity. They’re off to the natives to try and rouse a rebellion against the Tyrant (who gets well and truly coup’d in this issue). Meanwhile (meanwhen?), Nila is stranded in the past with Sgt. Collins and Dr. Hamm, as we learn more about where Dr. Hamm and the Spear came from, and why Dr. Hamm is so invested in time travel study. The issue ends with a kind of predictable beat as to what will come next month, but it’s still an enjoyable ride overall.

This issue is, as far as I can tell, the first very extended purple sequence of the book. The weird part is that it’s a sequence that takes place in 1941, which is defined by the coloring as The Present. I guess I always assumed that the time defined as The Present in this book would be the time Joshua jumped from to get to the Meld, which is when Dr. Hamm is an adult. While this sequence is a really masterful sequence, and the coloring is on point, it made me do a lot of logical legwork that I didn’t love. That’s not to say that logical legwork can’t be part of the fun: dig literally anything Jon Hickman has written in the last six years, from East of West to New Avengers. Making the audience work for anything they can get is great, when the writer is playing in a big world, with an expansive plot. This plot is an arrow: it’s going one place on one track, so logical legwork seems to unnecessarily complicate things.

Ei8ht-#4-1Also, Dr. Hamm and the Spear’s backstories are... I don’t know, they’re not bad, and they’re not unsettling, they just don’t feel right. It’s a very real-world slant on an origin story for a super weird book, and it seems like an easy reason for Dr. Hamm to be kind of a mad-scientist-type and the Spear to be an implacable evil. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions--I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t feel strongly for it, either; a feeling I’m getting more and more often about the storyline of this book.

After a couple issues of world-building, this relatively plot-heavy issue made it feel like a lot was happening all at once after treading water. That isn’t the case, but the way the series was paced out made me feel like it might have been. For example, in this issue, Nila sends the message to Joshua that he received at the end of the first issue, which is a good reveal; she also sends him another one that takes place more in the current action, which gives the whole thing a rushed feeling.

At this point, I still dig the series, but if it weren’t a limited miniseries that was about to wrap up, I wouldn’t be buying it, I would just be waiting for the collection. Albuquerque’s art is phenomenal, and the story he and Mike Johnson have cooked up serves its purposes extremely well, but at this point, I’d like to see more of an open world than a tightly focused miniseries like this. Albuquerque has the same flair for action and the strange that Matteo Scalera has in Black Science, or that Sean Murphy has in everything. Here’s hoping that leads to more stories in the Ei8ht universe in the future, or I’ll just have to keep satisfying my Albuquerque urge with American Vampire, when it isn’t delayed.

Score: 2/5

Ei8ht #4 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: 5/20/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital