Review: The High Ways #4

Well, this is it, the culmination of a series that has taken me on quite a roller-coaster ride since I first started it a few months back. John Byrne’s High Ways, published by IDW, started out much like space itself - devoid of anything in the way of an atmosphere or palpable, dramatic friction.

I thought it was destined to spiral off into nothingness, but somehow, it managed to kick itself up its own black hole and become something truly entertaining. Saying that, does High Ways #4 stick the landing for the series, or does it fall back into its old tricks and burn up on reentry?

As in the previous issues, we meet up once again with the crew of interstellar freighter ship, the Carol Anne. While Eddie “Sprout” Wallace, who was revealed to be a sleeper agent for some kind of space army, works behind the scenes to bring Dr. Simon Ketterly (a known mad scientist) to justice for “space crimes,” Captain Cagney and First Mate Jonesy are faced with indentured servitude after their capture, held at gunpoint by the apparently cybernetic thundercunt, Estelle.

After being sold out by Cagney to Ketterly, the two lament the fact that they have been duped into becoming unwilling drug runners of his still unnamed narcotic green jelly ... which should not be confused with the premier 90s band of the same name.

Meanwhile, Megan Bailey, supposed daughter of Cagney and previously known as “Sparkle Plenty,” could actually be called “Penis Plenty,” given how much of the stuff she seems to inhale across the universe. This time, the object of her affections is a junkie named Craig, whose friends want naught but their next fix. Not sure if that’s a step up or down for Megan from her previous liaisons with the leather-skinned cyborg called Murphy, but who am I to judge?

While all this is going on, a platoon of cops are hot on Ketterly’s trail, and are willing to go through anyone and anything to stop him with a brilliant plan that includes “shooting shit” with “lasers.” You can keep your Batmans, I want these guys doing my detective work! High Ways finally comes to a close with lots of action and a relatively feel good wrap-up, but I’m not sure I’d call the whole a successful combination of its parts.

The problem with High Ways #4 is that, while a lot happens on the surface, with zero-gravity fembot battles, a mid-space police chase and some recreational drug use, there doesn’t appear to be rhyme nor reason for any of it. In the previous issue, Ketterly told his captors that he desired the ginormous ship they’d come across, but all he did with it this time was send a covert team to sell it drugs, and command a handful of cyborgs to attack and possibly scuttle it, without any real justification or explanation for doing so.

I mean, you figure this guy is kind of just a galacdickbag, since he previously mentioned grand schemes for what he called “a galaxy ripe for the plucking,” but other than pushing pills and blowing shit up, it’s not clear what he’s up to, nor will it ever be, presumably, given what happens to him at the end, and since this is the last issue of High Ways. It does, however, wrap up the series as such, albeit with a rushed, rudderless direction.

Unfortunately, this whole thing seems like a jumble; big and beautifully drawn and colored though it may be, the artistic achievements don’t stop this book from tumbling off into empty space like detritus from a fractured space station. That’s a shame, really, given its mid-run turn-around, but overall, this series as a whole, while not being a disappointment, was much less than it could have been.

Score: 3/5

Writer/Artist: John Byrne

Colorist: Loenard O’Grady

Publisher: IDW Publishing

Price: $3.99

Release Date: 4/24/13