Along with never getting involved in a land war in Asia or matching wits with a Sicilian when death is on the line, not getting on a ship when you have an elder god that loves to devour living flesh inside of you may be one of those things that everyone ought to know. I’m not saying that it’s the most foolhardy decision, but a place with lots of bodies and little free roaming space might seem a touch too risky for me. In light of this, it makes for some exciting storytelling, as now the action focuses into tight quarters, raising the stakes while condensing the scope of the plot. This is the most intimate setting that we’ve been in yet, and things look to only get…cozier.
There’s not much in literature that evokes consistent emotional cues as aboard a sailing ship, added to the already vibrant and volatile cast, and you’ve got a great recipe for some close-quarters craziness. There’s a lot of posturing happening, with the whole crew solidifying the pecking order on-ship, allowing Liu to shade in more detail on these characters. The potential for violence is high throughout, especially when one factor makes a bit of a surprise return, and it becomes less of a “who will die” than “how many? This issue is solid as usual, teasing just enough of what’s to come while keeping us firmly rooted in the very immediate now. It’s this depth of field that imbues the world-building with such gravitas. At no point do we feel as though events are happening in a vacuum. There’s always more world that is tantalizingly on the horizon.
Sana Takeda continues to impress with the amazingly intricate artwork, bringing an incredible amount of life and verisimilitude to her work. Everything carries weight in this world. There’s a real substantive quality to the art that reinforces the heft of the world that I mentioned above. This grounded feeling makes the ship come alive, and her crew…damn if Takeda can’t come up with some phenomenal character designs. I think Old Tooth may be my favorite yet; she’s just fascinating to study and has a movement that’s utterly alien, yet makes all the physical sense in the world. Most issues have had one of these characters crop up, and I’m always stunned at the wonders that come from her imagination.
There’s a deep well in that mind that fascinates me, and I’m eager to see what’s next.
The final page on this one sets us up for some big-time whoopin’ coming up, which is insane since there’s an incredibly big and unexpected set piece moment in this one. This funneling of the action on to a ship will likely burst forth once they reach the island that is becoming the central focus of this arc (and I’m thinking that we won’t get there until the end of it). I think that this may be one of the deepest worlds in comics right now, and I’m loving every page of it.
Share the stories that move you.