Article by “InsideReel” at SirkTV.com
After Dark (#2 of 3)
Left adrift to die in the wastelands, [the concept introduced in earlier installations of] this graphic novel finds its [strength] by using the identity structure of the characters to pull the [story] back from the brink. While Ana, the soldier plagued with hopelessness and her own assured self-destruction, begins to take a back seat, the wretched thoughts of the rest of the crew begin to make themselves known. The Colonel, whose arm was hacked off by the Ronin, reflects himself into an almost religious trance. While at times far flung, the addition of faith and its possibility adds depth. What truly sells the story, though, in terms of the mythic, is the city that the team next visits, which looks like something from The Death of Prospero with ancient statues and winged dragons. The aspect of an ages-old baby hidden among the vines while other [near-humans] scavenge like bottom feeders adds to the mythology. Ultimately, the [focus of the story becomes the captain], who seeks to find Angel, who can save Solar City, not realizing [...] the connotations of what that may bring.
Shrapnel: Hubris (#3 of 3)
[...] Captain Narayan, after liberating Venus [...], returns to Mars to liberate its people from the Marine force occupying its sands. In a clear [reference to] Iraq and Afghanistan, the belief in the onslaught of a jihad is portrayed by the childhood friend of Narayan as [...] something different. As certain prophecies, including Revelations, point to a theory [...] of an Anti-Christ emerging from the ashes of the Middle East [in modern times], it would make sense in [relation] to this story that the savior of the cause on Mars was not someone of that race, but one that has accepted and changed sides (in their mind, for the greater good). This means hooking up with what one would call “unsavory individuals,” which can be [seen] in action here. While Narayan seems much more solidified in her self-confidence and, therefore, her identity, this newfound focus begins manifesting itself in different ways, which speaks to a greater problem: her god complex, [as seen in] her parallel words with Joan of Arc. In such situations, any offensive or ideal seems for naught, since the person in charge is blinded to their own acts.
Hollow Point (Radical Premiere)
Like The Road to Perdition, the assassin involved here knows his own shortcomings but is relegated to a sense of penitence, which is why his second assignment within this comic involves the killing of a priest who is accused of abuse. Using elements that Robert Rodriguez would be proud of, the killing in Mexico brokered by a would-be nun smoking a cigarette plays host to the [characteristics] of a pulp novel [...]. The Western style staredown at the bar [wherein] the hitman pities the hopelessness of his prey speaks to a larger depth. The dialogue, which is exceptionally good, [hinges] mostly on the point [of] what is not being said [about] the other’s life while, around them, the ideals of debauchery hang in the balance. Depending on the inherent crux of the story, the dramatic instigations can either play mythic or to a more supernatural bent as [they evolve]. The rough personifications, however, give the art a real texture which [is] richly vivid in depth.
Damaged (Radical Premiere)
Nestled [on] the reverse side of Hollow Point in the same issue, [...]Damaged, like Ryder on the Storm, involves an investigator who is not sure which side of the law he is on. Ryder was more ensconced in the gumshoe possibilities of the 40s, where this inlay involves an outsider (Jack Cassidy) who is brought in to help supervise the [investigation] of a new killing aimed at the mafia which seems (to him) to [have been] carried out by one man. The “David & Goliath” motif the narrative keys into remains strong, but the pinpoint element of who Jack is still remains remarkably slim, as does his adversary [who, besides the badge tattooed into his flesh,] seems a remarkable mystery. After a witness who was left alive by chance after the rampage points to the next target, another battle looks to be brewing on the docks. The art paints a shadowy reflection of the characters without letting the reader beneath their [skins], which leads to a hollow and cold progression, which is [...] purposeful, but also leaves many details open to chance.
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Items in brackets have been edited for the sake of clarity.