EDITOR’S NOTE: The Pound #2 is out now on IDW’s digital comics app.
A great premise can go a long way. For The Pound, the idea of a paranormal pest control agency is strong enough to cover up some of the growing pains of the script. Those growing pains were less obvious in the series’ first issue, which had the novelty factor on its side, but issue two stumbles a bit as it tries to set up the bigger picture.
Beginning with a brief glimpse at what our pest control specialists may soon be facing, the second issue is all about Howie and Scottie coming to terms with the world they’ve suddenly found themselves immersed in. That means dealing with the fact that werewolves exist and, therefore, other monsters are likely to exist as well. But more importantly, they may have tapped into an extremely lucrative market without much competition.
The occasional awkwardness of breaking new ground is to be expected in a series like this but the larger issue comes in the form of tonal missteps. Stephan Nilson seems to mistakenly believe that his plot and characters alone aren’t enough to keep readers interested so he attempts to interject sitcommy humor as well. For the most part the humor isn’t obtrusive, but gags involving a Seinfeldian pontification on racism and the strategic placement of a glove take up far too many panels to be ignored.
Nilson also struggles with the pacing of his story, rushing along the involvement of Scottie’s wife in the weird goings on. The scene where Scottie reveals what he’s gotten himself into is clunky and awkwardly acted and unfortunately feels completely unnecessary. By removing what could have been an ongoing point of tension in the story, Nilson takes some of the air out of book’s sails. It’s likely that the story took this turn because Nilson wants to push a sleazy subplot involving the principal of Scott’s daughter’s school and if that’s the case, the transparency of that future development similarly depletes tension.
Both of those scenes are also marred by some flat out bizarre illustrations from Karl Waller. The school scene in particular opens up with a panel that features some of the weirdest anatomy you’re ever likely to see, as Scott’s daughter is drawn in a way that makes her look like her head has been shrunken and placed on an elongated body. It could be that Waller had to rush the section or merely has trouble drawing kids but it’s distracting, to say the least.
Yet for the most part Waller’s art has improved in the second issue, particularly when it comes to his fight choreography. Issue one struggled with this, as the fight scenes were confusingly laid out and not as exciting as they could have been. Issue two by contrast shows that Waller has realized less is more, and in the issue’s climax he expertly lays out the fight with Howie and Scottie’s captive, making great use of shadows and motion, as well as some fantastic expressions.
Even with its clumsy moments, the second issue of The Pound remains an entertaining read with more than enough to keep readers coming back. As Nilson and Waller grow more comfortable with their characters and story, The Pound will likely blossom into a true sleeper hit. There’s just so much potential in their killer concept that it would be a mistake to stop reading before things really kick into gear.