The Paybacks continues to be a surprisingly thoughtful book underneath all of its gags, driven by Shaw's all-around excellent art. Bloodpouch has always sort of been the de facto main character, and I'm happy to see him rise to take up the mantle in this issue. A series like this deserves nothing short of a goofy, incompetent hero with a silly power, nothing to lose, and a lot to avenge. The sequence in which the faux-Miss Adventure reveals her sexuality is yet another case where this creative team demonstrates its penchant for well-timed humor. Even in a series this absurd, Rahal, Cates, and Shaw demonstrate that timing is everything and there's plenty of humor to be mined from normal moments to which many of us can relate.
In a lot of ways, that's one of the best things about The Paybacks. Even though it's filled with gags like constant double-takes, it's also a story that devotes moments to humanizing its characters. By now the feelings of betrayal that are driving Bloodpouch are palpable to the reader, despite the fact that relatively little time was devoted to fleshing out who he is or what motivates him. As with the little, more relatable humorous moments, this creative team finds ways to carve out little alcoves of character development in the midst of the fact that most of the plot has happened inside of a fucking van.
Shaw continues to drive the feel of the comic with his liberal inks and fantastic expression work. What begins to feel like a personality-driven issue instead has one of its subplots culminate in a stunning spread of a labyrinthine Minotaur. The only other artist of recent note who is this good at alternating between the monstrous and more intimate interpersonal drawing is Ryan Kelly's work on Cry Havoc. Despite Shaw's ability to play much looser with the subject matter in this case, it's apparently just how much restraint he's showing whenever he's allowed to cut loose with spreads like this one. Shaw's angular lines explode into flowing lines mixed with ink splatter, mixing the still-jagged pieces of his anatomy work with the magical.
From the cover, to the aforementioned spread, to the work on expressions, to the work on the backgrounds (christ, the guy has to draw a labyrinth inside of a mansion inside of a van), Shaw is putting in work that comprises a complete package you just won't see in many other comics on shelves.
[su_box title="Score: 4/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]