In the return of Tartarus, we narratively return to Surka and Hisa and what happened to them in between the beginning of issue #1. The narration manages to stay steady under the deft hands of writer Johnnie Christmas. His epic has managed to continually offer great narrative surprises that breathe new life into the series. One of the best aspects of this return is that it follows the mystery of what happened to both Surka and Hisa after readers initially believed them dead. It’s a cool way to ease everyone into the story while still tactfully allowing us to explore this brave new world they’ve put together.
Alongside this intricate tale is some stellar art by Andrew Krahnke. The lines are reminiscent of series co-creator Jack T. Cole’s; however, the unique energy that Krahnke conveys is solely his own. It’s some wonderful action dynamics mixed with these beautiful character beats that make Krahnke a superb artist to helm this arc after Cole. Krahnke clearly defines himself as his own artist with the first five pages of the book, almost easing readers into his style. It’s a strong mark for an artist, and one appreciated by fans coming into this series.
Thanks to colorist Hilary Jenkins, the book really manages to sing through the combined talents of Krahnke and Jenkins. Jenkins’s use of these delicate shades of color really offers a new premise in some old packaging. This conceit of the new within the familiar has always brought unique attention to this book compared to other mainstream sci-fi books on the stands.
Besides that, Jim Campbell’s lettering really proffers some flair in each panel. His emphasis on every page really mimics a voice’s inflection perfectly. The way certain letters become smaller to represent whispers is such an awesome touch.
One of the best narrative beats is the way Christmas and Ben Didier manage to insert these chapters of a survival book in between certain segments of the plot within the issue. It’s a nice touch that really informs the reader and is a smart way to bring aspects of this universe into our hands.
Overall, Tartarus comes back with aplomb. While there are new creatives to this team, it continues to reach a level of excellence one can expect from a vision as unique as this.
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