by Warren Ellis (creator) and Steve Pugh (writer, art, and letters)

The Story: Hotwire visits the “maximum security cemetery” in the hopes of finding some answers about the “ghost bombs” and ends up dealing with a paranormal jailbreak.

The Good: The art in this issue is inexpressibly phenomenal. This is the best looking book yet in a series that is already quite possibly the best looking series in Radical’s line-up, which is no small feat. A good chunk of this month’s eye candy comes thanks to the “ghost bombs,” which allow Pugh to go wild with his insane “creature concepts.”  His giant metal ghost spider is a sight to behold. The jailbreak only takes the art up to another level, allowing Pugh to draw cataclysmic floods and storms of biblical proportions. Art-wise, this is a big issue and it looks amazing.  Almost every large frame in this book could easily be framed and put on a wall.

Hotwire #3 is without a doubt an action issue, and Pugh handles the mayhem well. Again thanks in no small part to his spectacular visuals. That said, in the midst of all the gorgeous explosions, glowing gribblies, and high-tech gizmos, it’s remarkable how much I’ve come to like Mobey and Hotwire in only three issues. I wasn’t particularly taken with any of the characters after issue one, but I really connected with Hotwire and Mobey in issue two, and this month, I liked them even more. Hotwire is just the right combination of sassy and outright weird, managing to be likable and engaging while avoiding cliches and remaining abrasive. Once again, her dynamic with Mobey also brings much needed comic relief.

Meanwhile, Pugh continues to do a great job in balancing the main plot with the ominous surrounding events of the riots.  It’s a really cool balancing act that adds more of a flavor to the comic while also fashioning a living, active, defined world for the story to take place in– not easy to accomplish in a four-part limited series.

I also have to commend Pugh’s handle of the ghost bombs, who really come across as genuinely disturbing. His ghosts thus far have certainly been written in an unsettling style, but he sets a new standard here.

The Not-so-Good: Hotwire #3 briskly moves the plot along and does what it does well, so there’s not a lot to complain about.  I was a little underwhelmed by Hotwire’s reveal at the issue’s end of who she was covering for, but considering this is a four-part series with few characters, I can’t really think of many other possibilities.  At least this really suited Hotwire’s character.

Conclusion: Great action, unbelievable art, and increasingly likable characters come together in a fantastic comic.  If you haven’t read Hotwire, you should.  This weird and yet oddly perfect hybrid of hard science fiction, cyberpunk, noir/detective fiction, and horror continues to be a real winner.

Grade: A-

-Alex Evans