Two characters with bad streaks fight the law … and the outcome is clear even before it starts, but why is a pleasant surprise.
As anticipated last issue, things escalated rather quickly as the repentant man-mountain Essen Breaker and his murderous and diminutive colleague Rekala run into some unexpected complications. They’re both in the brutal seaside city Haas Haaden to stop a stream of missing kids, consigned to a horrible fate. Still, all of the factors seem aligned against them as they run into law enforcement who clearly are intent on neither protecting nor serving.
Justin Jordan has created a richly developed medieval world of swords for sale and gives the characters tons of room to show their own points in a journey towards redemption. The visuals presented by Niko Henrichon and Clayton Cowles present a lived-in world that feels real when things break (and that happens pretty regularly). When Essen struggles over the passing of his friend, it both gives him a chance for careful introspection and an unexpected opportunity. This issue shows this character is not quite as dull-witted as he purports himself to be. Likewise, the clever turns of phrase Rekala wield like sharpened blades are never unwelcome.
To relate a real-world horror — child trafficking and police corruption — in a fantasy setting could quickly come off as pedantic or heavy-handed. Still, this issue manages to maintain the sense of revulsion at the barbaric practices while keeping its “lens” closely focused on the characters and their immediate struggles. Even the Watch Captain’s banal motivations for evil come across as plausible, even as you want him to get his comeuppance. This series has always drifted towards the good side of the scale, and this month it easily shows its stuff in a winner of a comic book. RATING: BUY.
Justin Jordan, Niko Henrichon
‘THE GRIM AFTER,’ Part Three First, the Watch came for the children. Then, they came for Breaker and Rekala. But locking up the Devil’s Son and the skin eater is different than keeping them there.