Writers: Declan Shalvey & Rory McConville
Artist: Eric Zawadzski
Colourist: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Following on from the little arc away from Tatsuo and Nadia we are back with them and Kevin the robot. There have been some creative changes since the little brief arc away from the main plot. Both writhers Shalvey and McConville are back together for writing duties and art duties are taken on by Eric Zawadzski. The colouring and lettering creatives remain the same O’Halloran and Otsmane-Elhaou respectively.
We’ll talk about the art first as that is the real change. The character designs remain the same and are recognisable as the characters we have come to know and love. I did a bit of a double take at the start of the issue but that’s because it starts off with a flashback (way back to Tatsuo first getting involved with the syndicate) which means yes of course Tatsuo is going to look different because it’s a flashback. Once that is out of the way however we’re back with more familiarity.
I think having a change of artist for the last little arc means that the changes here aren’t as jarring, The general aesthetic hasn’t changed. There are different details. Zawadzski isn’t quite as abstract as Palmer was. There’s more subtle and smaller details. The panel work also fits with what we’ve seen before. We go through various time periods right off into the future and those transitions are done really well. Sometimes it is just a couple of panels of another era if that, but they give a good impression of that era.
The general feel of each different time zone is similar. The way the buildings and rooms are drawn fits with the architectural designs we’ve seen before. The backgrounds to have details in the way we are used to. The colouring helps but it’s also done with the new art style in mind so it works really well together. As a result there s still the feeling of continuity with the new art.
The plot follows on from the revelation a few issue ago that Tatsuo is dying of rad sickness/poisoning. His constant trips through times in pods with limited shields and that cage version that had no shields have left him a dying man. You can see the progression of his illness in the art. From the bags under his eyes to the way his skin becomes sallow and his hair thins. It’s a typical depiction of radiation sickness and it works with the gravity of the situation. They are going forward in time over and over in the hope that this will be the decade where there’s a cure.
Nadia is clearly concerned about Tatsuo. She’s the one holding onto hope. She’s also hanging around a lot with Kevin. I really like this. We’ve not seen these two chat one on one and the dynamic is interesting. Kevin is the cynical AI who also isn’t afraid to face the truth that perhaps there isn’t a cure for Tatsuo whereas Nadia can’t let her optimism go. The resulting emotional exchange reveals much about Nadia, how she’s been feeling since all this started. After-all if she hadn’t been in that warehouse Tatsuo wouldn’t be where he was (or would he perhaps this was all set in stone before she ever walked in there says Kevin). Seeing Nadia wrestle with guilt was really interesting and a nice little character twist I was not expecting given her past and Tatsuo’s past.
Tatsuo himself just seems broken. There’s not a great deal of deep character insight beyond the obvious because we get the gist. He’s dying slowly and he needs a cure. There is some musing on death and the nature of medical advances. It’s some nice character work which is both subtle but also not subtle because hello Tatsuo is dying yet it’s handled without hitting the reader over the head, which makes it more emotional. You so feel for him.
Kevin remains my favourite character and he provides a really good foil for Nadia. He’s not unemotional but he’s still different to the human characters I like his unique perspective. And also his track suit and frustration at card games (we’ve all been there). There’s one panel in particular which focuses on his (robot) eyes that I just really love with his delivery of the fact he literally can’t forget anything.
The ending of this issue provides another surprise and a nice link back to the last issue. I am not going to say more for fear of spoiling it but this was a very solid end which looks like it’s setting up some more interesting stuff. it was good to see Tatsuo and Nadia again along with Kevin. There’s musings about life, death and predestination but it tackles them in a really original and unique way within the world. There’s plenty left to explore and with these excellent character dynamics and fitting art I am looking forward to what comes next.