It’s really killing me every month to not start these reviews off with “Welcome back to We(l)come Back,” so by acknowledging that, I’m also using it and I feel great about it. This issue is the full debut of the super-talented Claire Roe as the new artist on the series, but it’s also a bit of a structural stutter.
Most of this issue, we follow Maizie through a shopping center as she chases down the Sequel she was hunting at the end of the last issue. The action beats are all stellar, and it reads like a comic version of the parkour chase from the beginning of Casino Royale. It’s the adrenaline and the shock of some of her instinctual actions during this chase that finally wake Maizie the rest of the way up. Meanwhile, Tessa attempts to infiltrate Maizie’s home base as they both prepare for a final confrontation.
In between issue two and this month’s issue, We(l)come Back was officially picked up by Boom as an ongoing series rather than a four-issue limited. I think therein lies the structural wobble that I alluded to earlier—if this were the second-to-last issue of the series, there would be way to little in the way of action and way too much in the way of narration, but as the third issue in an ongoing series (leading to what I would assume is the final issue of the first arc next month), it feels like Sebela is trying to get a lot of the worldbuilding stuff out of the way in narration that wouldn’t have initially made the page. Especially with all the action happening in the background and all the different Sequels that Tessa and Maizie interact with, it makes for a much more frantic reading experience than the first two issues.
None of that is to say that I didn’t enjoy this issue. We(l)come Back is still reliably brutal and it’s still a tense adventure story with a great central metaphor about that dawning self-knowledge that some people are blessed with in their early 20s. Sebela’s writing is as strong as ever, filled with excellent imagery and unique turns of phrase that he nails every time. But Claire Roe’s art is a revelation. Don’t get me wrong, I loved JBS’s work on the first two issues, and I know it threw me in last month’s review to see Roe take over the last few pages, but after seeing an entire issue of her work, I’m beyond sold. She really sells the kinetic feeling of a chase sequence (a difficult task in comics for anyone), and her art feels a lot brighter than JBS’s, with less spot blacking. Part of that is Carlos Zamudio killing it once again on colors, and bringing a lot of oppositional color theory to bear on the Sequels (the flashback of all the times Tessa and Maizie have met and killed each other is a standout).
This book is amazing, and the fact that this isn’t the second-to-last time we get to read it, but rather that we get to read it on an ongoing, indefinite basis is cause for celebration. There’s plenty of second printings of issue 1 and I’ve seen issue 2 on shelves recently—go pick up all three so you can all be on the edges of your seats along with me for the next month.
Welcome Back #3 Written by: Christopher Sebela Illustrated by: Claire Roe Colors by: Carlos Zamudio Letters by: Shawn Aldridge Publisher: BOOM! Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 11/18/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital