It’s finale time in the world of Ei8ht, which means now I can review the whole series and not just single issues! It’s every reviewer’s dream. So we pick up with Dr. Hamm and Nila finally getting in their ship and escaping the past to head for the Meld. There’s a pretty epic splash page of Collins vs. Savage Ape People, and then we’re back to the Meld to catch up with Joshua, Hari, and the gang vs. The Spear. The people of the Meld have retreated into the Burning Canyons and as The Spear’s people go to meet them, Joshua meets him on a bridge for a final showdown and swordfight. As the credit at the end of this issue is “End of Book One,” I’m going to let you guess who wins that swordfight, and who wins it pretty fast.
That all happens in the first half of the issue.
The back half sets up a lot of plotlines for the second storyline of this series, with Joshua on his own again, Nila leading the people of the Meld, and Collins just waiting for someone to come get her. I liked all the set-ups for the next book, but especially the “are they or aren’t they?” about Joshua and Nila being married in the future seemed underdone and confused. They mention a lot of things about Joshua’s wife in this issue (lack of tattoos, physical characteristics, etc) that we never could have put together ourselves, as we only ever saw glimpses of his wife, and always in her hospital bed. If we had been able to find those pieces for ourselves scattered through the issues, it could have built to a more satisfying resolution of Joshua going off to solve the mystery. Having said that, I am excited to see him take more trips to the blue future in upcoming issues, since we spent little-to-no time there in this arc.
I have some issues with the story structure of this book, and I don’t think all of them are because of the story itself. The way Dark Horse likes to do series as “series of miniseries” (i.e. every arc begins with a number 1 and a subtitle, like The Goon: Once Upon a Hard Time #1 or any Hellboy/BPRD storyline) means that, for a long ongoing series, they can try to grab new readers at appropriate story breaks. For a new series like Ei8ht, it lets them take a gamble on four or five issues and then decide if they want more. The problem here is that the book reads like they found out during issue 4 or 5 that they could get more out of the series, and it wobbles while they reposition the last issue as a springboard for more stories, rather than a self-contained mini.
Having said all that, I really enjoyed this book every month. It’s a good, pulpy adventure story with a swashbuckling sense to it, in the vein of Five Ghosts. It’s a book that knows where it’s coming from and it enjoys playing against the tropes that got it there; It’s got a lot of Flash Gordon and John Carter in its DNA, in terms of stranger-in-a-strange-land adventure, and focuses on the fact of being stranded, less than the convenient revelations of an outlander being a savior figure. Albuquerque’s art and Johnson’s script kept this book moving at a good clip every month, and again, the color coding is just a really cool touch that doesn’t sink to the convenience of sepia toned flashbacks and the like.
Albuquerque and Johnson have built a solid platform for this series, and I can’t wait to see where they’re going to take it when they come back.
Ei8ht #5 Story: Rafael Albuquerque & Mike Johnson Script: Mike Johnson Art & Colors: Rafael Albuquerque Letters: Nate Piekos of Blambot Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 6/17/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital