By Ben Snyder
The Family Trade #3 is definitely the best entry into the series so far. In issue #3, Nikki Ryan and Justin Jordan finally deliver on the mystery of the clan making the shadow government finally seem worthy of their own mythos. Jordan and Ryan’s short political commentary even works well into the story in this issue. But perhaps their greatest achievement is that they made Jessa finally feel like a worthy and interesting main character.
One of my biggest complaints about The Family Trade in past issues is how unlikeable the main protagonist Jessa was. I found her annoying and irritatingly riddled with teenage angst. I also found it ridiculous that she was considered an assassin despite having little to none skills in the trade. In issue #3 finally, give Jessa the opportunity to prove her salt. Between he cleavage padding saving her from a bullet wound to her simple but clever plan to get to the Bookmaker, Jessa continued to demonstrate her wits and intelligence. But Jessa also showed her age in a non-annoying way. Her explanation of how the cleavage padding saved her was exactly the self-deprecating humor one could expect from a teenage girl. This was the first issue in which Jessa felt like a character and not the template of one.
I’m also glad that Ryan and Jordan explained who exactly that was at the end of last issues cliffhanger. There are so many characters in this story, and unfortunately, the art style doesn’t differentiate between many of the characters, so having Jessa reaffirm his importance to her felt organic but also extremely helpful. Christian was also written very well as I began to feel myself siding with him during his plea for Jessa to join him. He definitely feels like the mislead youth who are done with the current manner of how business is run.
That brings me to the political commentary in this series. There hasn’t been much obvious commentary, but when it has been used in the past, it wasn’t particularly successive. Our first introduction to Berghardt was amongst fans holding signs that read, “Make the Float glorious Again” so he was obviously a proxy for our current president who campaigned with a similar slogan, but then the writers kind of just left him there. It didn’t feel necessary to the story and felt shoehorned in. In issue #3, Ryan and Jordan elaborate on the comparison and even show the repercussions of someone like Berghardt gaining power. The main example is the youth who feel powerless, even though they do in fact have power, siding with the outlaw candidate. Even though The Family Trade reverses the power structure, instead the youth (Christian) is aware that Berghardt is, in fact, a puppet; I feel it still bolsters the main theme that people are supporting a tyrant coming to power.
I wonder how far they will take the comparison of Berghardt and Trump. Obviously, they look similar, but in Berghardt's speech to the council, he seems to be stating a lot of things that Trump has stated and lied about such as coming from nothing, fighting for everything he has, and wanting to help out the poorer social classes. I wonder if Ryan and Jordan will eventually expose Berghardt to the people for the fraud he is, and I wonder what the mob’s reaction will be.
Morgan Beem’s art continues to be less than stellar in this issue. Once again, it's not that the art is particularly bad, I actually really like the storybook element the blotchy watercolors dictate. It’s simply that I don’t feel they work well with the story. I’m not calling for a gritty intense and realistic art style, but maybe something more defined and detailed.
The Family Trade #3 finally receives its best entry yet. While still not perfect, it finally feels as if the plot is in motion and the main character is worth following. I am interested in how far they take the political commentary as it is especially important in our current political climate. Also, it makes the book even more enjoyable to read.
The Family Trade #3