Partners in crime?

Publisher: Image
Written by Chip Zdarsky
Art by Jacob Phillips

What I like is about this issue is that we now get to know more about Newburn and his work though Emily, who, following the events of the first issue is now dragged into Newburn’s shady world. Having her as a protagonist is great because it gives us a really nice way in to learn about Newburn from another perspective. Emily herself is no saint with her own issues but to her Newburn is an asshole. She wants to see how it ends for him. The fact she dislikes him (and he doesn’t exactly like her either) set up an interesting dynamic.

That dynamic gets a work out on the first case they work together, a case of arson that involves gangs, drugs and murder. It’s the sort of thing Newburn does all the time it seems and he doesn’t have any particular sympathy for the justice meted out by crime families to those responsible. You can see why Emily sees Newburn as an asshole as his moral code seems firmly on the side of whoever happens to be paying him.

Through the course of her investigations Emily has also been talking to people about Newburn. We see these interviews, panels of different characters giving a line or two here, their lines building into a conversation that seems to lead to one conclusion – getting involved with Newburn leads to danger. The way these conversations and interviews are sprinkled through the issue is really effective and allow us to peel back the layers of perception around Newburn. He’s an enigma, a legend, dangerous. There’s a sense of foreboding in the warnings these people are giving Emily.

One other nice device in this regard is Emily’s journal entries. Used as both exposition and character insight they allow us a window into Emily that might not be accessible otherwise. It’s a nice bit of narration and though I know some people would rather revelations play out more naturally in the art and panels themselves I like this device which seems to fit in well for a crime book, which this definitely is.

The focus of the art remains as before, on the characters themselves which really works. At times it’s quite bare with just the character in a panel but we don’t need any more. We can see what the characters are feeling. We can see Emily’s annoyance and Newburn’s superior air. There are moments of action because all crime books need to involve violence at some stage but it’s never glorified in the art, it’s straightforward and to the point, just as Newburn is at the conclusion of a case.

We still don’t have the answers about Newburn this issue but we get more of a sense of how he’s viewed by the world. Emily is a great way to explore this further. She’s smart, but is she smart enough to survive in the world she now finds herself in? Only time will tell. I am looking forward to her next journal entry to find out.

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