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War of the Worlds: Second Wave #4

Posted: Tuesday, July 4, 2006
By: Robert Murray



Writer: Michael Alan Nelson
Artist: Chee

Publisher: Boom! Studios


War of the Worlds: Second Wave continues to be a consistently readable title month after month. There’s not much to excite the comic book fan looking for a unique read, but this title delivers on the promises it makes. Moving drama, shocking horror, and monsters big and small (or human) are what you get from every issue. Well, the shocking horror element takes a day off in Issue #4, as the real gist of the issue is the relationships of human beings during this invasion crisis. Father/daughter and husband/wife relationships are stretched and put to the test through the most extreme of circumstances, making this a fulfilling issue for a series built on character strength. Miles continues to grow within the narrative, though I was a little disappointed that the alien connection seen in earlier issues was not really explored in this issue. Regardless, Miles is transforming more into a hero with each chapter (as Duke playfully attests) and is becoming a stronger character within a series based on strong character drama.

Michael Nelson continues to add compelling moments that are vaguely familiar yet universally effective. The first scene that comes to mind is the opening gun ballet between most of the current protagonists. Miles accidently points a gun at Ronni, whose father points his gun at Miles, as Duke points a shotgun at the father and Jane surprisingly aims at Miles. Anybody ever see The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly or Reservoir Dogs? The gunplay in this issue reminded me of these movies, particularly the latter as the characters conducted rational, persuasive dialogue as the guns are brandished. Another compelling scene occurred near the end of the issue, as Ronni’s father, Miles, and Duke discover a clinic that has some much needed insulin. Inside, they find an autistic child dressed in a doctor’s coat, apparently separated from his parents during the invasion. Now, this might be my cynical, paranoid mind talking (as it often does), but I have this strange feeling that this kid is more than he seems, like other strange kids we have seen elsewhere (as in almost every M. Night Shyamalan film). Gosh, I hope not! Can we have a quiet, misunderstood, or strange child within a fantasy project that doesn’t have some weird powers or connection to some other power? Again, maybe a little cynical on my part, but his appearance is kind of unnecessary yet curious... Whatever the case, I feel very comfortable in Nelson’s world, as he presents solid characters, effective dialogue, and a very accessible plot.

As for Nelson’s partner, Chee continues to impress me with his realistic depictions of people amid the heightened levels of stress that surround everything. One very simple panel that spoke volumes can be found midway through the issue, as Miles and Duke are about to procure a tractor to transport the group to Eddington. Duke mentions to Miles, in regards to Jane’s dangerously emotional ups and downs, that they should leave Jane behind. At one point, Duke says, “She’s not your wife.” The next panel displays Miles’ horribly distraught face obscured in shadow, and he says, “No, but she was someone’s wife. We can’t leave her, Duke. It wouldn’t be right.” This brought me back to the first scene of issue #2, as Miles closes the door on his own wife, leaving her to an unknown fate. The shading of the panel and the pertinent subject matter really made me feel for Miles and produced a lot of power for such a simple scene.

I’ve always thought that Nelson and Chee’s strengths lie in their presentation of the quiet, personal scenes, and Issue #4 is full of these kind of scenes. It might not be Blankets, but their character-driven areas are strong. So I would definitely recommend this issue to fans of dramatic comic tales, though it might be a trifle slow-moving for those looking for sci-fi survival action. War of the Worlds: Second Wave is solid entertainment from a publisher that is quickly earning a reputation (at least with me) for quality within the field.



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