By Warren Ellis (writer), Juan Jose Ryp (artist)
The Story: Vigilante Josh Carver really, really wants to be a superhuman. So much in fact, that he is willing to ingest drugs without question and endure a hallucinogenic nightmare that would make Dante’s Inferno seem like a picnic in the park. He may have picked a bad time to realize his dreams though, because there is somebody out there who knows exactly what the members of the Front Line have become.
The Good: Juan Jose Ryp is Ellis’s secret weapon, bringing his stories for Avatar to life with art that is both detailed and dynamic. You only need to admire Ryp’s four, double-page spreads in this issue to see what I mean. His style is reminiscent of Geoff Darrow’s, but deliberately holds back from that manic level of detail and intricacy to better convey the action Ellis’ stories often call for. I have been watching Ryp pencil Ellis’ stories ever since Angel Stomp Future in 2005, and I have been delighted to see his style flourish and improve since then. It won’t be long before the Big Two come to court his talents, and I can’t wait to see him break into the mainstream.
The Not So Good: The tagline to this series asks “how much do you want to be a superhuman?” However it has failed to answer the question in a meaningful way. This issue was actually the first time I could recall Ellis even attempting to address the theme, and that’s unlike him. This brings up a larger problem I’m having with this series: it’s utterly failing to get to the point. It’s not quite a meditation on the price of being more than human, and not yet a murder mystery. It’s getting there, but my god, we’re halfway through the arc now and he’s barely discussed the ideas that he built this story around, and that’s unacceptable for a writer of Ellis’s caliber.
Conclusion: I’m quickly losing interest in this series, but Ryp’s art is truly a thing to be admired. If Ellis has a point to make, even if that point is simply to entertain the reader, I wish he’d get to it already.