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'Blow Away' #3 keeps ascending despite some minor issues
BOOM! Studios

Comic Books

‘Blow Away’ #3 keeps ascending despite some minor issues

Hey, at least you can’t beat the view, amirite?!

I’ve never climbed a mountain, but I have seen enough movies. And there’s always a point when our intrepid climber — Tom Cruise, Sylvester Stallone, etc. — is making progress only to lose their grip/footing and stumble for dramatic effect.

That’s sort of what I think happened with issue #3 of Blow Away.

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Because after two truly solid issues of Brynne investigating the disappearance of climbers Red and Blue, we’re left after this latest chapter feeling like everything is sorta up in the air — for better and worse.

In terms of the “worse,” there was a sense that this was a kind of stop-gap issue. After Brynne started to doubt her own larger perceptions and understandings, and got into it with Sheriff Iga Ayek, issue #3 of Blow Away is mostly a lead up to our hero deciding to re-trace Red and Blue’s steps on her own. It’s a solid idea, and one that’s really going to test her mettle and her already-tenuous dynamic with Ayek (and reality), but for now it just feels like we were doing the paperwork before the big climb. I think that happens often with stories (especially with a five-issue offering like this), and it wasn’t an entirely disappointing process. There’s still tension and uncertainty galore, and I get this increasing sense that things are building with endless efficiency. Still, if you’re expecting a massively significant chapter, maybe slightly temper your expectations.

Blow Away #3

BOOM! Studios

But then I got to thinking all about the climbing metaphor I’d made early — none of that happens by accident in the films (duh), and that’s got to be the case here in Blow Away. Writer Zac Thompson is a really thoughtful weaver of noir (like the recently-announced The Body Trade), and I think he’s proving that here. What the third issue may have been was a plot to get us to continually feel both uncertain and maybe a bit comfortable to boot. To think that we’ve got it all figured out, only to realize that everything is clearly in play.

That could be that Brynne may be out of it and suffering from isolation and paranoia; that the case of Red and Blue is not at all what we expect it to be; and that there may be some other players at work (like the sniper revealed in issue #1). We have let go of the cliff face, and in this momentary dismissal of gravity, we can understand the ways in which we’re being manipulated and maybe guided. And that’s the work of any crime story worth a damn — to play with our sensibilities and keep us on our toes. Is some of that perhaps an unintended side effect, and me the reader filling in spaces from this issue’s “downsides”? Sure, but the fact that we don’t know for sure is the magic of any crime story/caper.

Blow Away #3

BOOM! Studios

Regardless, one thing is especially clear in Blow Away #3: the art (from artist Nicola Izzo, colorists Francesco Segala and Gloria Martinelli, and letterer DC Hopkins) is once more top-notch. In the previous two issues, the team’s done some great work in making Mount Asgard and Baffin Island feel both inviting as well as endlessly scary/foreboding. And while a lot of those same feelings remain in issue #3, there’s some added ideas and decisions here that make a real difference overall.

The visuals have always done a solid job of playing around with light and shadow to mess with the mood and/or to get us thinking about a character’s intentions or state of mind. Here, though, it just feels all the more robust and prevalent; it’s as if the art is telling us something even as the book’s trying to play it off, and that kind of “tension” just feels deeply, deeply interesting. Similarly, there’s also moments here that randomly inject memories and/or past events, like something with Brynne and an old project that may have gone sour. I love how this plays out just like someone’s unreliable memory, and how it’s almost meant to appear less significant to get us to really dissect just what it means and why. (It’s also presented as film footage, and that just plays into the way Brynne sees the world and her increasing uncertainty/unreliability.)

Blow Away

BOOM! Studios

And the rest of the issue’s packed with these really great, wholly novel design choices, like having the Red-Blue stuff playing out as both footage and also a proper flashback (and how we’re once more meant to be unsure) as well as just the layout of certain climbing shots. Heck, even the appearance of a page-eating blizzard is done in a really interesting way to feel harrowing but also present a more textured view of this world.

That grander idea is central to the visual aspects of this story: not only are things not what they seem, but our place in that world is shaped and influenced by technology and other people that it’s hard to truly see just how reliable our own senses are and how the truth can be massively subjective. It’s those little decisions that inform my beliefs about this third issue’s “hidden” strengths, and just how subtle but massively effective the team are in their campaign to play with noir and our brainpans in one fell swoop.

The end of issue #3 comes with a rather climactic moment that’s both terrifying and wholly thrilling. That blend of emotions — or that dichotomy as it really is — is just another way that Blow Away is really this hugely effective book. Maybe this third issue wasn’t perfect, but then that’s OK: if my climbing metaphor has any upside, it’s that letting go is less scary if you know you’re properly attached to some anchor. And in the case of this book and its dedicated team, I have faith that the line will snap when it needs to and we can continue our climb to the wondrous summit.

'Blow Away' #3 keeps ascending despite some minor issues
‘Blow Away’ #3 keeps ascending despite some minor issues
Blow Away #3
Despite some minor (but still valid) issues, 'Blow Away' continues its thoughtful repurposing of noir, nature, and dramatic stories/structures.
Reader Rating0 Votes
The art team's inventive approach does so much for the mood, thematic exploration, and our ongoing engagement.
The story's momentum mostly remains intact as we make a methodical climb across this textured mystery.
I feel more engaged with this story than ever before (despite my complaints).
This issue's upsides are still countered by a slight downturn in momentum and structure.
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