Nathan Bright was just chillin’ on Mars as a weatherman when his life came crashing down. Accused of being a mass murderer, he was abducted by Agent Cross and ferried around the galaxy trying to stop another apocalypse. Great concept, eh? Unfortunately, the central idea didn’t make for a fully satisfying first trade. So does this next issue resolve any of the problems? No. In fact, the woes have metastasized.
Harkening back to my review of the first volume, I took issue with the overload of side characters that crowded the narrative. Alas, Jody LeHeup doubles down like Neil Breen and introduces even more bland archetypes.
The first two pages open with inane banter from two grunts, which I suppose is supposed to be funny, but this deflates tension from the last issue’s cliffhanger. Then we jump to earth to meet Vager, Dr. Argus, Kestrel, Gian, Hijo, Mero, and Kes. The conflict between all these people is confusing and it feels like I’ve been dropped into the middle of the third season of, I don’t know, The Expanse? Is that still on?
But wait, there’s more! The weather forecast has been taken over by Royd Filbert and there’s political intrigue between councilman Cyrus and Madame President who are discussing votes, statistics, auctions, and building contracts.
This feels like homework. None of the characters have enough personality to truly stand out and we’re not introduced to them — we’re thrown into the deep end while still trying to keep track of Nathan Bright and his bevy of escorts. Clearly, LeHeup is going for a Game of Thrones or Dune vibe by building a massive roster of characters over time, but there’s no spark of wit or legibility to keep us engaged.
Now we come to the titular main character, Nathan. He’s been a difficult character to parse, mostly because it feels like LeHeup doesn’t know what to do with him. When we first meet Nathan, he’s an eccentric, ADHD optimist. But he ends up going through the greatest of identity crises: being told he’s actually a genocidal maniac. Oh, and then he’s tortured for several issues. Yet, in this new #1, he reverts right back to his usual dorkiness as if nothing happened. What are we to make of his character? And if that’s a mess, why should we care? There’s a tiny hint of development when Cross asks him to step up and show he’s changed, so that’s…something?
On a positive note, let’s discuss the incredible talent of the other Nathan, Nathan Fox. His penwork is very loose and fluid, even messy, akin to Paul Pope or Toby Cypress. Occasionally a panel can be hard to discern, but Fox more than makes up for that with a tremendous use of scale. The ante has upped, and he takes the script to task, illustrating gargantuan spaceships and towering heaps of ruins. In terms of body language, Fox can turn even a dinner scene into an engaging showcase (especially in regards to the eccentric main character).
It’s worth mentioning there’s a new colorist on the book, Moreno Dinisio. This might be a hot tak, -but I enjoy her(?) work even more than Dave Stewart’s. Primary colors are used more sparingly, the choices aren’t so blunt, and the current mood of each scene is better illustrated by Dinisio’s palette.
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