Writers: Robert McKenzie & Dave Walker
Artist: Justin Greenwood
Colourist: Daniela Miwa
Letterer: Simon Bowland
I like Compass but it’s not one of my current must read books. Having said that it’s an enjoyable and decent read and this issue brings together Shahi and her friend turned nemesis Ling Hua. When the characters met in the first issue their short scene together did pop with tension and hostility, so I was wanting to see them interact again, although their interactions here are mostly action based I liked the way the characters were brought together.
What we have is two women forced by circumstance to undertake a dangerous journey into a supernatural underworld. In the case of Shahi it’s all about her quest for knowledge. The Druids basically send her on a trial and there she may find the knowledge she seeks about the cauldron of life. In the case of Ling Hua she is forced into the depths by the Mongols as she’s not making fast enough progress for their liking. Shahi is told to take a drink and ends up drugged and bound at the start of her journey. Ling Hua is just thrown into the dark. It’s a testament to the strength of these women that they start the journey in such difficult ways but persevere.
Once on that classic heroes journey they are both tested. For Shahi the line between the supernatural and hallucination is a thin one. She sees ghosts of both her recent and less recent past. She encounters the soldiers she took out in the first issue along with her old mentor. Her belief and faith are questioned and that provides some very interesting character insight into someone so normally self assured about the physical world. This is throwing new challenges at her. Ling Hua on the other had faces more physical challenges where luck is as much at play as her wits. When the two come together toward the end of the issue they must overcome physical peril together.
The art remains strong and the way the different ghostly apparitions are depicted is very good. It gives a strong supernatural feel to proceedings. There are lots of nice little supernatural touches. The spider that Ling Hua confronts is suitably creepy and perhaps not a panel that arachnophobes should read. The page where Ling Hua falls deeper is really nicely done as we see her body falling through space around a tower. Little guiding lights Shahi sees are really rather pretty. It all adds up to a world beneath that does feel like it has its own character and rules.
The art continues to be dynamic as Shahi and Ling Hua meet up and have to team up. The way movement has been depicted throughout this book has been really good and this continues here as they run and leap their way around. The dynamism really helps and it’s good to see them interact physically in a different way to what we first saw in the first issue. The relationship is also shown in the art as well as the dialogue and I really appreciate that.
Overall, I think issue #3 finally seems to be pushing things in a direction I’m more on board with. It feels like we have an interesting setup for the next issue. I look forward to seeing more interaction between Shahi and Ling Hua. I want to see what the next part of the quest holds. Being away from the historical setting above and embracing more of the supernatural below has really worked for me as a reader. I am looking forward to more.