£2.50 from Dave Candlish at "email@example.com" or
5 Cerdarway, Whitehills, Tyne & wear, NE10 8LD, UK
The first issue of this anthology title struck me as an interesting general concept with some good main strips but occasionally weak presentation. This issue shows dramatic change throughout. There's no movie adaptation this time, and the other strong story, "Undertow," has gone on an unfortunate hiatus, but not all the changes are unwelcome. The comic's presentation, for example, is greatly improved, with a much more interesting and elegant cover design and more readable layouts for the text features. Similarly, the previously disappointing samurai tale "Jikan" returns, but in a tweaked and polished form. The first half of this issue's installment reuses the art from #1, but the strip has been rewritten, and the dreadful redundant narration has been replaced with something far more effective. The newer segments also impress; the plot rattles along, throwing out one twist after another, and while I thought the cliffhanger a bit dull (having seen it used one too many times), I'd be more than happy to see the wandering samurai warrior return next issue, provided Candlish can keep up the frantic pace and unexpected plotting; in fact, the revamped "Jikan" is easily my favourite part of the issue.
We also get a couple of new stories this issue; "Julian Ruby," a noirish detective/bounty hunter type strip with good cartoony art and a strong sense of page design and storytelling, but writing so vague and generic that it's incredibly difficult to engage with the characters and plot; and "Daddy's Girl," a bit of twist-in-the-tail horror that's just as nasty as last issue's "Undertow," but isn't nearly as compelling, despite dramatically visceral art from Jay Bonney. Neither strip lets the anthology down, but "Undertow" was so very enthralling that I'd much rather have had another chapter of that.
I'm very pleased by the improvements in this comic; the title's strengths were evident in the previous issue, but just didn't quite come together properly. While this issue isn't perfect, Candlish is definitely heading in the right direction, and delivering some good comics entertainment along the way.
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