I wasn’t all that impressed by the first issue of Onyx, the new sci-fi mini-series from Chris Ryall and Gabriel Rodriguez. While the book showed promise in some areas, ultimately it was bogged down by bad dialogue, bland characters and an unoriginal plot. With this second issue it is clear to see some improvement has been made, and although some of the same problems do still occur, they aren’t quite as glaring as they were when this series debuted. Continuing the story of the extraterrestrial warrior Onyx who came to Earth to try to stop a planet-killing galactic spore, and a human strike-force who have since allied with her, Onyx #2 pushes Ryall’s story forward at a fast pace without feeling rushed. This allows the book to retain the summer blockbuster feel it established with the first issue. The story Ryall is telling with this series continues to show potential, particularly towards the end where things take a dark and quite gruesome turn for one particular character. Still though, it’s held down by the dialogue which – while a vast improvement on the first instalment – still fumbles here and there. Some lines feel overly-expository, and consequently come off like something no real person would ever actually say – think about the dialogue in the Star Wars prequels and you’re on the right track. This problem is at its worst during a short segment where two characters are transported to an alien dimension, and proceed to come out with lines so awkward it made me want to cringe. As I say though, there has been some improvement in the two months since the previous issue and I feel that if this series can continue to rectify its flaws then it really could go out with a bang. However, to successfully pull off such a turnaround some drastic action still needs to be taken with the book’s two main protagonists: Onyx and the psychic marine Loner. Two issues in and both characters still feel quite generic, and as a result it’s difficult to throw your support behind either one.
The art team of Gabriel Rodriguez and Jay Fotos continue to impress with this issue, bringing to life some genuinely creepy creatures with a giant mutated frog chief among them. Prior to this book, the only place I’d seen Rodriguez’s art was in Joe Hill’s superb Locke and Key, and for a moment I wasn’t sure if he’d be able to adapt from a horror/thriller-type comic to outright sci-fi action. How wrong I was. Rodriguez and frequent collaborator Fotos are doing a great job with this series, and their artwork really injects the book with a lot of energy.
In the end, Onyx is still far from perfect but this issue is a real improvement on the first. The story feels like its forging its own identity, and the artwork continues to impress. While the dialogue still isn’t quite spot on, and the characters could use some more fleshing out, I’m optimistic that this book is on the up and up and may well wrap-up on a high note in a few months time. Onyx still isn’t a must-buy, but it is one to watch; if it successfully manages to right itself in the next two issues, it could well be worth a purchase in trade paperback.
Onyx #2 Writer: Chris Ryall Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez Colorist: Jay Fotos Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 9/9/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital