By: Brian K. Vaughan (story), Marcos Martin (art), Muntsa Vicente (colors)

The Story: No one deserves to go down this way—not even a sex doll.

The Review: Brace yourself—personal story coming through. A few months ago, I switched email accounts. My old one kept having this problem where someone would hack into the account and send spam mail to all my contacts, usually with subject lines like, “Check this out,” or, “You won’t believe this!” The third time this happened was the final straw. Of course, when I made the switch, I let all my contacts know. I just forgot to do the same with my commercial subscriptions.

Consequently—and this is the point of this otherwise bizarre anecdote—I never received an email from Panel Syndicate letting me know the latest Private Eye issue was out. It wasn’t until after reviewing the latest Saga did it occur to me that I hadn’t read an issue of Vaughan’s other ongoing in a while. But here we are, better late than never, as some might say. Anyway, I’m sure fans will agree that unlike many series, Private Eye doesn’t suffer for the wait.

As with Letter 44, this series has reached a point of its life ripe for further exploration of the characters, now that their personalities are firmly established and the plot is running smoothly. A few relationships in particular are worth looking into: Patrick and Raveena’s early romance, Patrick’s childhood with his grandpa, Nebular and DeGuerre’s initial association. This time around, Vaughan chooses to flash back to Mel and Patrick’s first meeting, which isn’t a bad choice either. Their interaction is as snarky as you’d expect, but between the zingers about each other’s ages, we get a clearer understanding of why Patrick does what he does. When Mel calls him out for invading people’s privacy, he replies “People may have a right to privacy, but they also have a right to know crap that affects them.” So now we have a philosophical dimension to Patrick’s work, on top of the personal trauma he revealed in #3.

This is good because whether Patrick wants to or not, the trouble he’s dealing with revolves around dearly held ideals, so much so that it’s the geeky Michael, not DeGuerre, who decides to escalate the situation. But these two may be the only ones in the story who are certain of their convictions; it’s not clear where everyone else stands on the issue of privacy. Perhaps Vaughan’s point is they’re not supposed to. If Mel and Patrick’s conversation says anything, it’s that privacy can be both freeing and harmful, and that one person’s secret is often another person’s detriment.

The way this issue works out, we see that the opposite is also true. Mel’s lack of Nym and mask lays her bare to Johann’s coercion, and by setting reporters onto the Immelman residence, Patrick and Raveena’s lives are not only in danger, their whole mission is at risk. Vaughan couldn’t have found a more effective way to throw a wrench into their plans, especially with DeGuerre and Michael deciding to shorten their timetable by a considerable degree—like ASAP.

More and more, I’m really starting to enjoy this landscape format, with the caveat that Martin actually knows what to do with it, unlike certain mainstream series I need not name. Artistic dummy that I am, I’m starting to realize that the wider a panel, the better it is at giving the illusion of time and motion. There’s no way you’d get the same sense of momentum and speed as Raveena and Patrick make their escape on a hover-bike if they were confined to tight, narrow spaces. That extra length is just the thing to draw out the skidding of the wheel as it launches from Michael’s duplex or makes a sharp landing after jumping a bridge. It’s the closest you’ll get to reading The Fast and the Furious.

Conclusion: A nice glimpse into the past as the present story keeps barreling forward.

Grade: B+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – It’s a cool moment when Patrick relies on his photography skills to take an actual shot at someone, but speaking from personal experience, tracking with a camera is a very different thing than doing the same with a pistol.

– See, that’s what I’d use a lifelike sex doll for: murder decoy. Among other things.