I've talked a few times recently about how burnt out I am on comics in general (perhaps something worth taking a more dedicated look at in the future), and last month's issue of Injection didn't help. Its central piece was a bizarre sex romp that didn't fit the story, the characters, or the mood of the book and felt like at best a waste of time and at worst a betrayal. The good news is, Injection #9 bounces back sharply with an issue that plays to all of the story's urban-fantasy strengths. The bad news is, it actually makes the last issue look a hell of a lot more self-indulgent and mediocre. Ah well, you can't win them all. In terms of Sherlock Holmes or James Bond, both clear influences on Injection, this issue is the first face-to-face between our heroes and the villain. And in the style of Moriarty or Blofeld, the Injection taunts our wary heroes before making a dramatic exit, leaving behind a possible clue. The issue opens up with Viv and his loyal assistant red fending off an assassination attempt from the terrorist organization Rubedo. With the help of the just arrived Sim and Brigid, a second attempt at the airport gives the group a prisoner to interrogate. At the same time, the part of the Injection captured in a laptop is isolated and examined by Brigid and Viv who have a truly disturbing conversation with the haunted A.I.
There's a lot going on in terms of story in this issue, and I likely need another re-read or too to understand it all. I've not yet mentioned the latter half of the issue which is mostly structured around a tying together of disparate plot elements and clues into a cohesive plot. I like to think I am pretty patient with comics and generally a fan of decompressed storytelling, but it's truly a relief to see the story picking up steam on pretty much all fronts (the only character who doesn't appear is Maria).
It's also high time the series started taking advantage of its cyber-punk, urban fantasy stylings which has been the selling point from the beginning. Landing somewhere in between the X-files and Hellblazer, Injection is a creepy look at a world where magic and science have crossbred to form something monstrous. There are mentions this issue that it's not just science that has changed recently, it's magic too, which, from the barren, horrific bits of the magical world we've seen so far, raises a number of interesting questions. There's something electric about a team of powerful, rational thinkers being forced to deal with a being so strange and frightening that it defies each of their expertise. What's likely more disturbing is that they created it.
Going forwards then, the question is what does Warren Ellis actually want to do with the book. When it's functioning as a genre-mashup adventure story, it's one of the best books currently being published. When it's reveling in Ellis sharp but familiar take on gross-out comedy and crazy asides, it's incredibly limp. I remain fully on-board with Injection for the moment, but I sincerely hope Ellis will prove to be as disciplined an author as he clearly can be. For the moment, Injection #9 is simply a great issue.
[su_box title="Score: 4/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]
Injection #9 Writer: Warren Ellis Artist: Declan Shalvey Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 4/27/16 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital