I was looking forward to diving into this second issue after the shocking ending of the first and I was curious to see how Luna and Keely intended to continue. Fresh off the heels of a confrontation with a pair of mysterious figures attacking her estranged cousin, Mer finds herself with little choice but to join Lucas as a member of the West Side gang.
20XX #2 is all about Mer trying to find her place in a new world, learning more about the West Side gang her cousin is a part of, as the reader learns more about the East Side too. With this comes a second appearance of Nuon, who shared the cover to 20XX #1 but only featured briefly in the actual issue. As much as Mer is trying to figure out where she belongs as a new Sym, it’s also clear that she’s in a position of self-discovery and a kind of rebirth, forced to leave most of her old life behind in order to move forward.
A lot happens in this issue, and some of the scenes and transitions are written and illustrated in a way that feels too abrupt, including one moment where it’s not immediately clear that the scene has changed at all. Moreover, long conversations between Mer and nearly every character she meets just don’t feel overly suited to the medium. While conversation was used for world building in the first issue, here it does seem to fall a bit flat and become more noticeably exposition.
Despite these minor issues, it feels like a natural progression of the story to introduce the leaders of the West Side gang: Kal and Tendai, and by doing so Luna and Keely gently increase the cast of characters. However, the issue starts to feel increasingly busy with the introduction of the East Side gang. Though this does help to bring elements of the plot together, I wonder if a slower pacing would have presented more opportunity to explore both gangs.
Throughout the issue, Jonathan Luna’s artwork continues to shine, with attention to detail and giving each character a noticeably different appearance. His instantly recognizable style remains a highlight of the series.
This is a good continuation of 20XX, but I do feel like it’s quite a busy issue that might be trying to do too much too soon. While this does allow for an interesting cliffhanger, I can’t help but wonder if this should’ve been saved for issue #3 in order to give more time to better establish the two rival gangs and their members.