by Simon Spurrier (Writer), Tan Eng Huat, Craig Yeung (Artists), Jose Villarrubia (Colorist)
The Story: In custody of S.W.O.R.D., David gets a ”the reason you suck” speech by a cosmic entity.
The Review: One has to admire the willingness of Simon Spurrier to be unconventional. With books like Six-Gun Gorilla, his part in the Trifecta crossover in 2000AD and his webcomic Disenchanted, he seems to have a knack to go for what people might not expect, be it with the setting, the concepts and how everything mesh together. While being original isn’t always a sure thing when it comes to actual quality, being such is always something nice to behold.
His tenure on X-Men Legacy could certainly count as well, as Spurrier shows the mutant corner of the Marvel universe in a whole new light, with David Haller as a protagonist, one that has never been actually popular to begin with. With his story unfolding with every months, Spurrier keep his readers guessing as he seems to be unable to keep a status quo for his story, which can be a blessing as it can be a curse sometimes. However, the latest issue wasn’t certainly the greatest as it tried to precipitate events a bit fast in order to advance his story. Does this issue take advantage of this setup to properly advance its themes and story, though?
It actually does, much to this issue’s benefit, as not only Spurrier manage to bring in a certain retrospective and different vision of events past, but he also manage to provide some new concepts and ideas to his tale as well. The use of Aarkus, a villain that had been introduced in the story in issue 9, Spurrier manages to bring in a different way to envision David’s action through a bigger picture, peppering it with a tinge of grudge as well. The whole concept of cosmic trial is a sound one, as not only does Spurrier bring in past threads, but he uses them to go ahead with his story.
Doing so, Spurrier uses this to go ahead with two narratives at the same time, giving readers a focus on David and Aarkus as he alters between both their point-of-view. It’s a tricky way to advance the story, yet Spurrier does manage to present both threads without any being in the way of the other, creating some sort of controlled chaos amidst his narrative. Creating a cosmic, yet personal story is not something we see every day, which does play in how Spurrier does things usually.
Despite all of this, Spurrier does stumble a bit with some elements, namely the inclusion of some characters and details that don’t seem to really do anything besides produce some jokes or anything that push the themes of the comics forward. While the fact that Abigail Brand is in the comic, along with her assistant Sydren, is a nice touch, her presence doesn’t do much for the story presented. She opens up the issue by giving some exposition, gives some funny lines here and there, but she doesn’t do much in the whole dialogue between Aarkus and David, beside standing on the side. It does feel a bit like a missed opportunity as she is certainly the type of character that Spurrier could work wonder with.
If there are people that are working wonderfully here though, it’s Tan Eng Huat and Craig Yeung, who brings the controlled chaos visually on the pages. While the characters of Huat aren’t exactly the most graceful in term of details and anatomy, there is no denying that he is able to convey the right emotions despite the apparent ugliness of some of his humanoid characters. Where he shines more is in the weirder elements, those that aren’t traditional by any means, like cosmic monstrosities, aliens, bizarre landscapes and so forth. Thankfully for him, the script provide plenty of opportunity for him to play to his strengths, as Aarkus along with many bizarre and chaotic designs are rendered in the pages, with Huat seemingly taking joy in creating chaos on every panel without destroying the narrative flow. The way he draws energy along with the way he alternate between both point-of-views makes the visual pacing good despite the clash between the two presentations, with one being down-to-Earth while the other is lost in the cosmos. It could have been a tricky issue, yet both Huat and Yeung rise up to the challenge admirably despite some of their flaws.
Another person that does admirably is Jose Villarrubia, who uses some very basic contrast technique to help differentiate both threads. Using warm colors like pink with David Haller and colder one with Aarkus, Villarrubia help the readers in settling down with the chaos in each pages, yet does not restrict himself to these primary colors. Still using a rich and diverse palette despite the basic colors being put to the forefront, he is able to differentiate various elements in order to enhance the visual of Tan Eng Huat.
The Conclusion: Experimenting a bit with the narrative while moving the book forward, the creative team of Spurrier, Huat, Yeung and Villarrubia manage to give a thoroughly satisfying issue that plays with each of their strengths. A very nice issue overall.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière