Mike Raicht, Austin Harrison, and Howard are invested in creating characters we care about, and this issue is all about character. We learn more about Cola and Scram, and Tug, too. There is a distant tenderness to many of these characters, especially Cola’s mother Olivia, The Dawn’s commander. Through her we understand that it can be dangerous to get close to people in this sky-bound world, because so often they die too soon, especially the Guns. While Olivia respects what they offer, she also sees them as an expendable necessity, something Scram (a Gun) actually agrees with. Their role is an exhilarating, deadly one. In a way, Olivia’s view of the eventuality of a Gun’s death is not much different than The Judge’s belief that many must, and will, die in order for him to attain his goals.
While their motivations are different, both know the death of others is a part of survival for the rest, for the greater good. But, we know that Olivia’s greater good is honorable compared to that of The Judge’s, and we see even more of his ruthlessness in this issue. Most frightening of all is that The Judge believes he is doing the right thing, and when your word is law, it is hard to see why not. And, this is what makes him such a vile character. He forces others to follow him out of fear, and because he offers hope for a better future, and that following him is the only way to survive. Once again, the art and colors are in top form, Howard and Nelson Daniel bringing this desolate world to life with rough lines and dark shadows, deep earth tones, and shades of black and dark blue filling most of the pages. The scenes largely take place in confined, cluttered quarters, so when we do get outside to see the sky when Tug begins his Gun training, we relish in the wide open space, even if it isn’t bright and blue.
This issue accomplishes the task of drawing us into the lives of the characters, and pulling us into the conceit of Wild Blue Yonder: survival at all costs, for both sides. We want more by the end, which is exciting and satisfying for the sophomore issue of a miniseries. The story and characters truly hook us here, and we want to see this story through to the end. Cola, her family, and the crew of The Dawn aren’t fighting for escape, they are merely fighting to survive and to stay alive, and when that’s the case, we know there will be an end, good or bad. For these characters, every day matters and each person has their role, though some of those roles are not what they, or we, expected.