By Ben Snyder
Another issue of The Family Trade goes by and I feel another crushing wave of disappointment. I genuinely feel like this comic has the potential to truly be something despite issue #2’s lack of support for this claim.
Justin Jordan and Nikki Ryan pen another complacent chapter into the series. It’s not that anything is particularly offensive or horrible. Jessa escapes the botched Berghardt assassination with help from the roaming cats of the float, gets demoted by the bookmaker and then defies him putting her in more harm.
Perhaps this series of events would be more bearable if Jessa herself was more interesting. We really don’t get any more character defining traits in this issue. She continues to play out like a typical rebellious teen that wants to change the status quo, but ultimately has a lot more learning to do. It’s not a particularly bad trope to use, and I feel like the world and The Float could put a unique spin on it. However, Jordan and Ryan haven’t begun dig into the mythos of the world yet.
In fact, we really don’t know much of anything of value about the titular family yet. We know that the bookmaker seems to be the central thread, the family is quite large and far-reaching, and that they are heavily involved in politics. Like why does nameless red put up with the bookmaker’s putdowns, why not be a civilian instead? Why are those the only two options if you’re not physically inclined? Why is the bookmaker so into cats? It seems that Jordan and Ryan are building off a world that has already been explained and they assume we know it. These seem to be fundamental questions that need to be answered and I was hoping that we’d get them or at least hinted at them in this issue.
Another problem that I have with this chapter is that I really don’t think that Jessa is a good spy, despite the writer’s attempts at making her out to be one. Her first two attempts at Berghardt failed miserably. This issue’s final scene in which Jessa attempts to break into the government building is only successful because the guard finds her attractive and even then Mikkaelsen almost catches her in his office. And then she seemingly gives the stolen information to someone who double-crosses her. I understand she’s supposed to be inexperienced and new the trade, but she shouldn’t be an idiot depending on pure luck to succeed.
The art continues to be a distraction in this issue. Morgan Beem’s watercolor style is pretty to look at, but it gets confusing when the action starts. It’s also very easy for minor details to be lost in the muddled tones. Probably the biggest issue with the art for me was just how incongruent tonally it is with the subject matter. I understand that the story is light-hearted and not to be taken to seriously. It features a plucky young would be assassin/spy, however the art style seems as though it was ripped from the pages of a children’s book and it doesn’t blend well with the script’s subject matter. Mikkaelsen, for instance, looks far from menacing with his slender frame and rosy cheeks. It also makes a lot of the characters look similar physically as I kept thinking Jessa let Mikkaelsen read the stolen papers at the end.At first, I really enjoyed the world of the float that the first issue of The Family Trade introduced. I thought the concept of a shadow family on the side of good that kept the politics in check could really stick out as unique in this ever growing and expanding catalogue of Image series. However, The Family Trade #2 fails to instill as much hope for this series going forward.
The Family Trade #2