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'Blow Away' #2 kicks up a snowstorm of big tension and subtle tweaks

Comic Books

‘Blow Away’ #2 kicks up a snowstorm of big tension and subtle tweaks

‘Blow Away’ should be your new favorite noir cocktail.

With issue #1, Blow Away really impressed me with its robust mix of sharp moods and overall heft/depth . After my iffy take on his Hunt for the Skinwalker, writer Zac Thompson had nailed that mix of reality and drama as he slowly unfurled the story of a wildlife photographer, Brynne Brautigan, who may have witnessed a murder.

But issue #2 presents a slight change for this love child of “Fargo and Rear Window” as Brynne’s grasp on reality begins to loosen, and we move from the terra firm of solid neo-noir into something altogether more unknowable. But coulda Blow Away keep its momentum, or will it instead drift off into the great wild wilderness?

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I think the second issue makes the right kind of decisions and concessions to maintain some structure and stability even as the book is moving beyond just your ordinary crime thriller. For one, we get a solid new character in Sheriff Iga Ayek, who even after just a couple of pages is already a proper foil for Brynne. Ayek’s no-nonsense approach is the perfect counter to Brynne’s growing paranoia and uncertainty, and having that more decisive and sturdy force is essential as the book tries to keep us grounded in some sense of reality even as it begins poking out the outer walls of Brynne’s own sanity.

Similarly, Ayek’s presence forces Brynne to re-evaluate what she saw between the two climbers (simply referred to as Red and Blue). Through that, there’s the injection of a really solid police procedural, as Brynne tries to crack the case like an amateur PI. (Which leads to some run-ins with the locals, who act as a similarly grounding force for the growing unease and tension beginning to influence and inform Blow Away at-large.)

Blow Away #2

BOOM! Studios

What we ultimately get, then, feels like a kind of sampler platter of noir, from something like the aforementioned Rear Window and Fargo but also with bits and pieces of Law and Order and Murder, She Wrote tossed in for good measure. (And even a slightly “gimmicky” sense of unreliable narrator a la Memento). The resulting story is liked a multi-colored snow cone of ideas and energies, and all of it together is about fostering mood and unease, empowering but also questioning our lead’s skills and abilities, getting us to engage and play along, and making it easy to second guess what we saw right alongside our plucky lead.

It’s a really compelling development for this book, and it creates both solid ground and deep connections as the book also wants us to continually feel like we’re behind the ball in terms of where this case is headed (even as it still throws us some softballs to keep us engaged at all times). It’s how you build a world and then almost immediately set about pushing it beyond our very expectations.

For the most part, though, a lot of the story is still quite grounded, and the narrative itself is very much focused on “just the facts, ma’am” as the case builds and builds. Where we get some of that uncertainty, and the sense that we don’t fully have this mystery locked down (which feels nearly supernatural, TBH), is the art from co-creator Nicola Izzo (alongside colorist Francesco Segala).

Blow Away #2

BOOM! Studios

In the debut issue, the visuals really helped foster the power and isolation of Mount Asgard and Baffin Island, and that’s very much true here. There’s just so many great angles and shots that feel wholly novel as they effortlessly drive how both desolate and beautiful this place is (like some truly sweeping views of the town itself that just make you feel so small and just a tad bit uncomfortable). I also love the way they use certain devices — like mimicking video footage/camera display — to create some layers and comment on the disconnect of a place like Baffin and a little more on the unreliable narrator to boot.

Even some moments between Brynne and Ayek exude such deep humanity, and we can feel the disconnect and tension in the same way an exterior shot drives home how harrowing this place can be for locals and outsiders. The world is a character in and of itself, and it both excites and terrifies in equal measure to extend and enhance what’s going on with its many denizens.

Blow Away

BOOM! Studios

At the same time, though, I think the more impressive moments of this issue come with the use of shadow and the interplay of color and tone. The aforementioned camera stuff, for instance, uses grainy footage to really get us thinking about the lens that we’re seeing this through and what that might mean (if anything, of course.) Then, in several instances, but especially as she’s questioning some locals, Brynne sees weird shadows across people’s faces. Or, even similarly dark and unsettling tweaks and tinges across the faces of Red and Blue as she’s watching back GoPro footage. We’re never sure if they’re actually different or altered somehow, or if it’s just Brynne’s own perceptions.

Either way, the end result is the same: we know something is deeply not right, and yet we can’t place how and why and whether it’s all in our heads or not. At that’s a deeply powerful thing: it doesn’t just make you question reality, but assume that there’s something wrong in how you engage and process the world itself.

Blow Away

Brynne is either a victim of her own paranoia and disconnect or perhaps the victim of something larger that she can’t fully comprehend/manage (the issue hints at some larger, unspoken trauma/events in her younger years). Yet again, it’s about fostering doubt and suspicion and to begin to throw us off course without completely separating us from some manageable reality. It’s how the book gets us to really feel the chill and to also dig ourselves deeper and deeper into this world as we try and maintain gravity just when we think everything may be slowly coming undone. It’s the mark of a truly good noir, and another layer to the mystery of this book’s machinations.

If I had one complaint with this issue, the end did feel a teensy bit flat. It certainly is a proper development for this story and the case (even if it felt a little overly telegraphed), but then I started thinking maybe that’s what the book wanted me to think. And that right there is just the perfect encapsulation of how effective issue #2 of Blow Away proved to be, and the skills and power it holds so early on. Maybe things aren’t as they seem, or maybe the snow and cold have already gotten to us. Either way, I’ll journey as deep as necessary into this lush and enthralling mystery.

'Blow Away' #2 kicks up a snowstorm of big tension and subtle tweaks
‘Blow Away’ #2 kicks up a snowstorm of big tension and subtle tweaks
Blow Away #2
With a slight shift in mood and trajectory, 'Blow Away' is building toward a deeply compelling mystery that we may not totally see coming.
Reader Rating0 Votes
The mystery builds in a deliberate manner to engage and confound us in equal measure.
The art offers both gorgeous scenery and hints of something darker at foot.
The tension here is building in a such a way that it might rip us to shreds.
The ending wasn't exceptional, but you can mostly forgive it.
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