The first scene in Injection #7, takes place seconds after the end of #6 and in many ways the two issues function better when viewed as one. Balancing out the focused, entirely Vivek-centered story from last month, issue seven checks in with each of the other CCCU characters as well as giving us another look at the mysterious Injection. Further, this issue finishes setting up its Sherlock Holmes mystery as Vivek finds some clues in his ghost related mystery (three words: ectoplasmic sex fluids, the book is still pretty gross). I liked last week's issue just fine, but this one gains back all of the momentum from the first arc, making for a pretty perfect installment of Ellis magic/science thriller. After the police capture the man behind Vivek's human flesh sandwich (which he still maintains was extremely tasty), Headland calls in help from his former team. His conversations with each of his four former teammates is a delightful mix of sad and comedic as Headland's abrasively intelligent personality is met with affection and annoyance in equal parts. The dynamic is between him and the rest of the CCCU is Sherlock Holmes by way of your somewhat annoying older brother: the team knows he is manipulating them but goes along with it because he has their best interests at heart.
While I thoroughly enjoyed Vivek's attempts to get Robin Morel to take the Breaker's Yard job ("Why do you hate me, viv?"), the most fascinating encounter is between Headland and Kilbride where they discuss head-on the Injection as well as the event that ended the last arc. Kilbride remains delightfully crusty ("Robin, Robin, Robin, blah, blah, blah, let's all help the sad wizard") while Headland displays a creepy nonchalance about the existence of a haunted artificial intelligence. It's nice to see the book starting to build on its own mythos and it's especially exciting to see parts of the team interacting (the ending hints that Vivek, Simon, and will be reuniting soon).
And none of this legwork or continuity feels like a chore, as Ellis spaces it out with the increasingly bizarre detective story. We are treated to more of the continually bemused sidekick 'Red' who is the perfect counterpart to the enthusiastically strange Headland. The issue feels light despite packing in a lot of information which comes down, at least partially, to Declan Shalvey's ability to make scenes that could be talking heads engaging. There's very little point in noting again that Shalvey's art is excellent, but nothing here suggests he's slipping. He shines here in the specificity of his settings making locations like a mansion and a stone cottage look memorable and detailed. We never seem to be seeing a generic version of a place or object but instead a concrete identifiable one.
I sometimes forget, in admiring the craft demonstrated by Ellis and Shalvey, just how good the story itself actually is. The Injection is an intriguing and strange villain, as well as a really exciting spin on the sci-fi conspiracy story as told by X-files and its various knock-offs. Adding magic into the mix doesn't clutter the story but instead gives it a historic depth that makes many of the sci-fi ideas more arresting. With Shalvey and Ellis turning in the best work of their careers, I am anticipating what sort of spectacle is in store. Honestly, I'll be satisfied if we simply continue to get lines good as "The Adventure of the Elderly Ghost Sexer".
Injection #7 Author: Warren Ellis Artist: Declan Shalvey Colorist: Jordie Bellaire Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 2/10/16 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital