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Fans of Dark Fantasy Should Read Ryder on the Storm #2

Review by Jason Green

Writer David Hine continues to blend noir, horror and fantasy in the second issue (of 3) of Ryder on the Storm. This time out, our gumshoe hero Ryder is staring in wonder at his new right hand, which last issue was infected, chopped off, and magically re-grown. On the lam from Ma Danton and her horde of Daemons, Ryder hunkers down with Katrina (the femme fatale who hired him to investigate the suicide-by-power-drill of her last boyfriend) at the secret hideout of the mysterious Charles Monk. As the trio prepares for battle against the Dantons, Monk lays out the secret history of the world as we know it: Daemons and their army of mindless drones subjugated the human race for eons, until an army called the Order of the Sacred Blood found their weakness and systematically took back the Earth for Team Human. The Daemons went undercover while they prepared their comeback, and now the sewers serve as incubators for hundreds of hive queens ready to re-infest the world with drones. But Monk happens to have two secret weapons: a sort of Daemon kryptonite, and a secret involving Ryder’s past that levels the playing field.

Hine did an excellent job of juggling a wide variety of storytelling tones in Ryder on the Storm #1, but things don’t gel quite as well in #2. Part of that is the way he chooses to use his space: Hine has so many cool little nooks and crannies to reveal about Ryder’s origin and the human-Daemon war that he bogs the book down with fourteen solid pages of caption-packed exposition, which artist Wayne Nichols illustrates with an egregious five splash pages. Things pick up once Ryder and Monk head to the sewers to investigate the hive queen nest, teaming up with a pair of punk rock sewer-dwellers called Mudlarks (any resemblance to Morlocks is strictly coincidental) in a nice action sequence that that jazzes up the book nicely. Add in some bedroom shenanigans and a twist ending that seems groan-inducingly cheesy until you take a few seconds to think of how it relates to what Ryder did just three pages earlier, wrapping up the issue with enough intrigue to make issue #3 seem worth the $5.

Splash pages aside, Nichols’ art has the same strengths and weaknesses as last time out. Despite clearly using a lot of photo-reference, he actually seems more at home drawing the book’s gruesome monsters, which, between the flashback scenes and the sewer adventure, he gets to draw plenty of. Colorists Feigian Chong and Sansan Saw again do most of the heavy lifting, giving the book that patented painterly look that is Radical’s stock in trade. Though much of the book takes place at night, the pair avoids making things too dark and muddy by bathing these scenes in a cyberpunk shade of green that recalls Pat Lee’s Dark Minds.

Though sometimes the mix of genres overwhelms the book, Ryder on the Storm offers enough intriguing twists to make it worth seeking out, especially for fans of dark fantasy titles like Spawn and Witchblade.

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Ryder #2

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