Establishing a world and characters in a new series can be a daunting task. Provide too much up front and it reeks of information overload, but holding back can lead readers to have plenty of unanswered questions. Deep Beyond #2 toes the line by building on the first issue’s foundation while slowly – but surely – building on the character’s arcs foreshadowed early on. The issue is incredibly well-paced and adds a sense of conflict to every scene, both overtly and subtly. Artist Andrea Broccardo is at his best, especially when delivering dynamic action sequences and providing grotesque monsters with Lovecraftian aspects. The issue isn’t without its flaws – like minor exposition dumps – but it does its job well. The first issue launched the series and introduced the setting/story of Deep Beyond, but issue #2 delves deeper into the series and reels you in.
Throughout the issue, more information is provided organically – save for one exception. We get clarification on the role Pam’s Wife plays and her ties to a possible conspiracy. Eve Carlson is a Colonymaster, but she answers to a mysterious figure, and we learn of a potential “inside man” within the rebel group. The scene adds another facet to the anomaly’s mystery, and Eve’s ties to a greater conspiracy. Eve appeared formidable in her encounter with Paul, but even she is at the beck and call of a higher authority. Who is this man? What are his intentions or ties to the plot? It’s too soon to say, but your interest is piqued.
On the information front, we also gain insight into the rebel group that has forced Paul’s hand. Instead of a typical guerrilla-style crew of hard-nosed terrorists, we are introduced to an atomic family with a common goal. Paul acts as the reader’s proxy. As the group introduces themselves to Paul and answers his questions, the reader also naturally provides the information. The scenes with the crew humanize the group and familiarize us with them, although, to be fair, one scene, in particular, felt out of place. During a shared meal, Omeir, the group father figure, goes down the line introducing the team while describing their characteristics. It seems like a minor complaint, but when is the last time you introduced your mother as “Pam, smart and endearing, a real wiz in the kitchen”? Understandably, it’s meant to introduce Paul (and frankly the audience) to the team, but it feels forced and contrived.
In terms of pacing, writers Mirka Andolfa and David Goy never waste a page or a panel. Instead of a predictable slow escalation of the tension, we open with a banger with more subdued scenes between all the frantic actions. The reader is never comfortable knowing what comes next, and the issue is all the better for it. Whether being attacked by gigantic monsters, being in the midst of an unsettling conversation, or involved in scenes intent on building on the mystery behind the cataclysmic world-changing event, the conflict is always there in spades in one form another. As the story progresses, the stakes are increased. Also, the inclusion of the possibility of a plant within the groups adds further tension. As you take in each new scene, you find yourself analyzing characters’ every action or bit of dialogue, asking yourself questions of who can it be or what everything means. Suffice to say, it pulls you further into the narrative.
If you’ve read any of Mirka Andolfa’s previous graphic novels, you are no stranger to her affinity for strong characterization. Deep Beyond is building on that tradition with characters struggling within and without. Paul is as timid as they come, but he can’t help but try to save Pam despite losing her emotionally years ago. As fearful as he is, slivers of bravery begin to shine through in this issue. It isn’t an overwhelming 180 that feels out of character, but a slow burn as we witness him slowly gathering courage throughout the adventure. Pam’s sister, Jolene, has been alienated from her sister for years; Paul only recently found out about her. And yet, she is on a mission to save Pam despite the frailty of their relationship. I fully expect her connection to Paul to grow as the story progresses; whether that will be romantic or merely platonic remains to be seen.
Finally, we have Pam’s wife. As Colonymaster, she needs to compartmentalize her duties from her marriage to Pam, but we know it is involved in something more sinister. There are many moving parts in the story, but they are woven together magnificently; I can’t help but look forward to the moment when all the paths finally cross one another.
But what is a comic book without beautiful art to support it? If you’ve seen Andrea Broccardo’s art across Marvel, DC, Lucasfilm, and Titan comics, then you are well aware of the sheer talent he brings to every issue he illustrates. For the uninitiated, enjoy. The art is Lush and always pitch-perfect to the tone of the given scene/panel. The action feels brutal and visceral when a creature from the depth of your nightmares is attacking, but Broccardo also can convey the emotion that hits home. Andolfa and Goy infuse the narrative with drama and beckons an artist to portray a wide array of emotions, and Broccardo answers the call. Anger, confusion, surprise, or even grief is illustrated with tact.
Despite a few minor foibles, Deep Beyond #2 effortlessly escalates the narrative and compels readers to see the story through to the end. Strong art, fleshed-out characters, and a story that pulls you further in with every new entry make Deep Beyond #2 worth your time.
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