This turned out to be a great damn issue and yes I was surprised by that! As good as the third issue was it didn’t leave a lot of mystery for this issue. What plays out in this issue is predictable, but what keeps it from being boring or un-interesting is the execution. We knew that A, B and C were going to happen, but it’s how they were presented and how they played out that made them entertaining and special to the story. One thing this series hasn’t done is spend time with the villains of the story. The thing is… it’s a fucked up future scenario so it’s hard to say that the antagonist is all bad. We open with the Judge as he and his fleet is preparing to overtake The Dawn. We learn about The Judge’s plans which are a bit strange. He wants to put the best of the best on The Dawn to ensure only the strongest of humanity survives, but he doesn’t include himself among them. Are his intentions somehow noble? Is he just trying to think about what’s best for humanity and not just some crazed self-serving dictator?
Back on The Dawn we find Soda about to talk to her mother and deal with her actions from the last issue, but instead she finds her parents in a heated discussion. It’s clear that there is plenty of resentment stewing from the captain towards her husband. She blames him for how Soda acts, but there might be something deeper there involving her father, the previous captain of The Dawn.
Needless to say Soda listens, but she doesn’t dare approach her mother having heard her lack of faith in her. Soda heads to the hanger and finds Tug working on her father’s ship and startles him; he hits his head pretty hard, but they’re flirtation begins instantly anyway. Tug, who we know to be a spy at this point in the story, is trying to distance himself from Soda. He asks about her last “gun” Lucy and if they kissed and stuff as well. Soda breaks down what Lucy looked like and it leads to a touching moment between them; this of course forces Tug to risk everything by trying to change The Judge’s course, which gets him caught by Soda’s dad.
This series has been consistently entertaining and maintained its high production value since the beginning. What’s made it interesting and different, is that in this apocalyptic future people are forced to take to the skies. It really has added an interesting element to the story and with the edition of the ship that never lands; it gives humans that last bastion of hope for the future.
The writing succeeds in humanizing the entire struggle. Instead of it being bad versus good, it has become survival versus survival. The Judge doesn’t even know who’s on The Dawn and if he does he hasn’t shared the information with anyone else. We see that when Tug is completely blown away by the people living on The Dawn. The children, the families the sense of community and while it’s similar to the Judge’s fleet and people, there is something different about the two groups. It raises the questions of whether one group deserves to survive more than the other. Obviously as readers we’re rooting for the current occupants of The Dawn, but perhaps given the chance we would find more people like Tug among the Judge’s men.
I haven’t had any complaints about the art on this series and this issue is no different. Well there is one difference… I think this is the best looking issue of the series so far. Maybe it’s just that characters have been so fleshed out that they’re no longer 2-D drawings, but full dimensional characters moving around on the page. Whatever it is, the artwork is fantastic. The level of detail hasn’t dipped in the least bit and the detail and personality given to the characters is even more impressive.
Coloring is a big part of this series. The series has a lot of earthy tones that keep it looking like a dystopian future. You’d think that with it being set in the sky you’d be drowned out with blues, but instead shades of orange and rust colors rule the sky.
My prediction is that the Judge will lose and in doing so he will acknowledge that the stronger group of humans is on board The Dawn already. The story could swerve though, but I doubt that this ending will be too unhappy. Characters are sure to die, but overall this story is too good have a bad ending.
If you’re behind on this series you’ll have some extra time to catch up, but I wouldn’t recommend starting on this issue. While it’s a great issue, you need the buildup and the character development to truly appreciate the entirety of the issue. Otherwise, it’s a damn fine issue.
Story: Mike Raicht, Zach Howard, Austin Harrison Writer: Mike Raicht Artist: Zack Howard Colorist: Nelson Daniel Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 3/5/14