It might be a little hard to follow what’s going on in What’s the Furthest Place From Here?, the fifth issue of which lands this week, and though I don’t think that’s 100% by design, I don’t know that the book suffers for it.
For one, this issue is built to move fast. The chapters, a structural constant in the series, have been shortened, hectic, comic book equivalents of cinematic jump cuts. Fights have broken out, characters are in extreme danger, and the looming mystery continues to be teased without much evidence toward its solution. All this hectic action and narrative jumping make the issue harried, almost fevered, as the action ratchets upward.
While our characters have never been free of danger, the claustrophobic setting of the Carnival, where a growing contingent of aggressive parties has gathered to confront our central characters, feels oppressive in its bizarre, twisted whimsy. The sense that our characters live in a forgotten world, where commonplace objects like records and videotapes have lost meaning but gained totemic purpose, is less apparent in the Carnival. Sure, midway games have turned malevolent (throwing darts at dolls’ heads, dunking booth execution chambers), but most of the action here feels more akin to Outsiders-style teenage violence than a world that has moved on.
The main frustration is that the rapid action, on top of the nonstop introduction of characters, makes it hard to keep tabs on (or get to know) any of them. While we’ve got standouts Prufrock, Mallory, and Alabama with major moments, the victimized Oberon gets a bit lost in the shuffle, making his fate lose some of its power.
At the heart of the story, however, is that ever-present threat of the Strangers, those ghastly creatures who seem to be enforcers of the new world of warring child tribes. They’ve become the face (er, faceless) of the larger mystery, the most tangible link to solving the mystery, and this issue puts them in the spotlight more than our protagonists, whose short bursts of action further confuse who’s who and what’s what.
For all those minor quibbles, the book maintains a sense of grim hilarity and intrigue and feels driven with purpose. Rosenberg and Boss continue, ceaselessly, to put indelible passion and care into the series, which elevates it in a way that makes it one of the most exciting books on the stands. It’s hard not to love it when the love within is so apparent.
Combined with that love is a sense of something more magical and dreamlike intruding into the narrative at the issue’s climax, and the book continues to provide hook after hook to keep the reader joyfully coming back.
Join the AIPT Patreon
Want to take our relationship to the next level? Become a patron today to gain access to exclusive perks, such as:
- ❌ Remove all ads on the website
- 💬 Join our Discord community, where we chat about the latest news and releases from everything we cover on AIPT
- 📗 Access to our monthly book club
- 📦 Get a physical trade paperback shipped to you every month
- 💥 And more!