Publisher: Mad Cave
Writer: Ryan K Lindsay
Artist: Emanuele Parascandolo
Colourist: Michele Monte
Letterer: Joamette Gil
The second issue of Speed Republic takes things up a gear. I apologise for that car related metaphor. It is true though. There’s a lot more this issue. We get more of the race sure, but crucially, and perhaps more importantly, we get more about Sebastian’s past and his relationship with his sister Shane who cropped up at the end of the last issue. Their past is the driving force behind much of what happens this time around (I swear I will stop with the car related metaphors).
Here we learn more about the race, which is basically that it’s fraught with double crossing, danger, traps and general punching people in the face. Sebastian experiences most of these this issue. He also experiences flashbacks to a rather traumatic moment in his past involving a car, a bridge, his elder sister and a gun. Poor guy can’t catch a break in the past or the present. I am not going to spoil exactly what that past trauma was but needless to say we get a strong insight into his sister Shane, older and more world hardened than he was as a kid.
This all leads to world building. Not everyone is happy with the Autocrat, with the way things are generally, and some people are driven to desperate measures to change things, or make a statement (I know car related wording again, sorry!). It all helps build the world up into something deeper, like there is something to say. The race itself is just an expression of the various political tensions bubbling under the surface.
I like that the race is more than a race. It takes that basic idea of fast cars and do anything to win and adds in some different stakes. Of course Sebastian isn’t aiming for world changing stakes, he’s just aiming for maybe a quick life changing fix. Yet he can’t escape the fact that others around him have very different goals which leads him to some very tricky positions. To say more would let on just what those are but it’s more fun to discover those yourself. This is a spoiler free review!
The art continues to work well. One panel that stands out for me is Sebastian driving, his actual self only taking up part of the panel with the rest giving the impression of blurry movement as he speeds along. It’s a nice touch and a bit different. It’s a good way of depicting the movement of the car from inside. It’s a bit more unconventional and I like that. There’s also a nice panel late on with a silhouette of a car and hitchhiker with pinkish colouring in the background that I also really liked. It was a nice quiet panel in contrast to the high energy of some of the issue. It’s a good balance and the art reflects that.
There’s also some really compelling art in the flashbacks. The colouring again works here. Yes, there are some nice racing related panels but to me the more compelling art is in the flashbacks. There are some real looks of terror on kid Sebastian’s face. He’s also recognisably the same character, though adult Sebastian looks rather different in many ways there’s something about the face that carries through both the art of older and young Sebastian. The flashbacks are quite emotional because kid Sebastian is clearly a kid, and one out of his depth.
Those hoping to see more of Shane will be pleased to hear that she does appear, though a bit later on. The focus this issue is Sebastian as he narrates the present and the past giving us far more insight into the world and his run of seemingly bad luck with this race. The stakes are definitely getting higher.
Overall this is a solid second issue, nicely diving in deeper into the world and the central character, which is always a good thing and what a strong second issue should do. The race continues and it will be interesting to see what obstacles Sebastian will be faced with next time. There’s certainly potential for a few hare pin bend and twists to come (the car and driving related words just work for reviewing this book I’m sorry!).