The Paybacks continues to be visually stunning, with a great sense of humor, and a unique elevator pitch that keeps heroing fresh. Shaw and Affe make such a great team on the visuals of this series. Shaw's angular pencils and generous inks are right at home with Affe's tight grasp on a fairly broad pallette of colors. I'm consistently impressed by how she handles tricky things like lighting that befuddle a lot of pretty good colorists. Dark sequences become a battle between Shaw's heavy inking of shadows and Affe's killer knack for bringing characters and places to life with all sorts of weird lighting. There really aren't many titles with such a great mix of aesthetically killer artwork and tight sequentials that consistently contribute to the impact of both the action and the humor.
One of my few NYCC regrets is that I didn't get a chance to pop over to Cates and Rahal and tell them how much I've been enjoying this series. Any time you can get right to the heart of a good elevator pitch--indentured superhero gear repo men--and then build an intriguing story with intriguing characters around it, you have a recipe for success. Of course, not every story needs to be built this way, but it's always fun to see such a clever little idea not go to waste.
This issue in particular gave us our first substantial bit of backstory for a particular character (complete with some half-tones to fill it out, which was a great touch), and it was a great resolution to the cliffhanger at the end of issue two. The Paybacks continues to ramp up how much readers care about individual characters, as well as ramping up the mystery driving the plot right now. The best part is that all of this intrigue is simply happening smack in the middle of this absurd world that constantly borders on parody but never quite goes full tilt.
I love that this comic is not afraid to be silly, especially since the premise, despite being sadly believable in its own way, is ultimately quite silly. But The Paybacks is not itself a parody: it's a comedy, and though it perhaps runs parallel with satire at times (especially in issue #1), this is shaping up to be a gorgeously rendered hero story of its own. Just like some of these characters borrowed some junk in order to be heroes, this creative team has borrowed the idea of superheroes from those far less deserving and, far from defaulting on the loan, they're making a hero story worth reading.