Geoffrey Thorne and ChrisCross continue an exploration of young soldiers returning home to a world that hasn’t changed much — well, beyond the superpowers.
Blood Syndicate: Season One #2 picks up with Hannibal White, who didn’t join up with Rolando and Carlos in the previous issue. Instead, Hannibal takes a slow walk home, preparing to face his family and let them know about his newfound religion. The journey here feels more introspective than the first issue. Where Rolando was more concerned with the state of the neighborhood, Hannibal is practicing a speech to give his parents. Writer Geoffrey Thorne alternates between speech balloons as Hannibal talks to himself and captions, revealing his inner thoughts, giving life to the inner turmoil the young man is feeling.
Like with Rolando and Carlos in the previous issue, however, Hannibal is quickly reminded that the neighborhood is no refuge for introspection as Old Boy finds him after the reunion with his family goes south. The artwork by ChrisCross is superb throughout at catching the minute details of body language that helps communicate to the reader just how Hannibal feels in all these meetings. Every hesitation, every regret, it all shows in the artwork by ChrisCross and inker Juan Castro. Geoff Thorne also uses this part of the story to highlight just how dangerous a place like Paris Island is. Hannibal hasn’t been back home for much longer than an hour only to get dragged back into the same gang life he had before he left. The decision to set this after the scene where Hannibal reunites with his parents helps illustrate why he would have joined a gang in the first place, and why he joined the army. Hannibal is someone who wants to feel accepted, and the streets seemed to have offered that at one point in his life.
Color artist Wil Quintana also shines, as the naturalistic look of the book helps ground the story in truth. Blood Syndicate: Season One feels like it’s set in a real place with real people, and that’s a testament to Quintana’s colors bringing life to the story without making any distracting decisions.
If there’s one real criticism about Blood Syndicate: Season One #2, it’s that the story only moves a touch past where issue #1 left off. The pacing here is deliberate, a calm building before the storm, and hopefully the investment that Geoff Thorne and ChrisCross are making in building these characters pays off as things get more explosive. Nothing here particularly drags, but there’s still a feeling like the story hasn’t truly started yet, and that can be frustrating after two issues.
Still, Blood Syndicate: Season One #2 is a nice character-driven chapter that catches readers up with the other member of the duo they were introduced to in the opening pages of issue #1. The quality of storytelling is enough to keep the book going, even if the pace feels a little measured at this point.
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