Enderís Shadow continues to be one of the titles I look forward to the most each month. Following the events of last issue, Bean arrives at Battle School, and discovers that, as modern and exciting a place as it seems, it may have been safer to stay in the slums.
This issue follows two plot threads: the first, which chronicles Beanís journey through the harsh world of Battle School, and the second, follows Sister Carlotta, as she attempts to track down Beanís origins. Just as Ender was treated with a warm welcome by Colonel Graff in Enderís Game, Bean is similarly given one by Captain Dimak; however, just like Col. Graffís speech, Dimakís was given for the sole purpose of painting a target on Beanís back so that the trainers could see how Bean reacts to the cruelty of his fellow students. Bean, as clever as ever, constantly probes the strengths and abilities of Battle School throughout the issue, searching for its weak spots. It can also be noted that it is now more evident than ever that Bean is by all means a socially awkward child. Col. Graff sees this as a sign of his feebleness and normality, however, Capt. Dimak disagrees. This issue also marks the first appearance of characters from its counterpart, Enderís Game; students such as Petra and Bonzo approach Bean, and they definitely do not treat him as they did Ender.
And while Bean faces the dangers of Battle School, Sister Carlotta, with the help of the police, attempts to find out just where Bean came from. With no reports of kidnapped or missing babies at the time of his birth, Sister Carlotta speculates that maybe Bean isnít human, and may in-fact be an in vitro grown infant.
While many readers may not pick up this title, suspecting that itís just a spin-off of Enderís Game, they could not be more wrong. While Bean and Ender may share similar traits, youíd be surprised by just how much smarter Bean truly is. Ender embraces the barbaric and incredibly social environment of Battle School, while Bean couldnít care less if he seems interesting or not.
It must also be noted that both of these Battle School titles possess different approaches. Enderís Game is less subtle, and heavy on shocking imagery and action; Enderís Shadow is very much a cerebral book, containing little action or violence (since the first issue, anyways), and stuffed-to-the-brim -full of social intrigue that feels strangely at place in a book whose main character is a child.
Sebastian Fiumara delivers another cracking issue on the art front. Now that Battle School is introduced in this issue, Fiumara subtly changes his pencils; theyíre smother than the Earth-based scenes, while the terra-firma locales, even the characters, are noticeably rougher, dirtier, all-around more rough. Even the color pallet changes, with the England portions having earth-tones, and the Battle School ones utilizing colder and sharper colors, such as greens blues, and reds. The sharp contrasts genuinely make you believe you are at two completely different worlds.
This issue ends with a bang that (while unrevealed) will leave readers thirsting for more! Iím just disappointed that this series is already half-way through.
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