Following a scary brush with possession, Gina Meyers and Section 26 are back on the case. Meanwhile, the backstory of one of Gina’s uneasy new allies is finally explored.
Gina’s narration takes on a new purpose in this issue, and the results are pretty interesting. Rather than flashing back to a moment in Gina’s own past, her thoughts are used to frame a look into Coyle’s origin story. There are still some parts that are unaccounted for (and likely to be explored at a later date), but allowing Gina’s experience to inform Coyle’s side of the story is a cool tactic. It was a tiny bit confusing up top, but it doesn’t take long for the reader to see where Cavan Scott’s script is going with this.
This change in framing kind of tips off the way the rest of this issue’s story plays out. There’s been a balance of power within the team at Section 26. In true urban fantasy protagonist fashion, Gina Meyers is quickly becoming the favored agent, and it’s actually kind of entertaining to see how this rubs the other characters the wrong way.
Edwin continues to be more of a plot device than a character, spitting out a ton of expository dialogue just about every time he makes an appearance, but even he is given a bit more to do here than in previous issues.
Scott also finds time to squeeze in a few references to other pieces of spy fiction, which certainly made me a happy reader.
As always, Corin Howell gets a few moments to run hog wild with some truly memorable creature designs. The image of a possessed Gina is striking, with possession being a much more physical affliction than it is often portrayed in fiction. There are also a few other well-illustrated monsters and gory bits that I won’t spoil here, but they definitely leave an impression.
There are also some incredibly inventive background visuals throughout the issue. One of the highlights comes early on, when Coyle is seen at a fancy restaurant with his partner. The artwork on the walls of the place is oddly sinister, giving off a vibe of high society mixed with body horror. Little touches like this remind the reader that darkness is ever-present.
Triona Farrell gives the issue’s flashback sequences a color palette that is noticeably different from Gina’s own memories. There’s an earthy, almost rusty look to Coyle’s flashbacks, which suits the bloody nature of his particular affliction.
This latest issue finds clever ways of subverting the series’ formulas, just as readers are starting to get used to them. It’s clear that Shadow Service is going to continue to be full of surprises.
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