“The Returning #4”
Writer: Jason Starr
Artist: Andrea Mutti
Originally, I started reading The Returning because of Frazer Irving’s cover art. Shallow reason, I know. Especially since you’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover. He has some amazing art though. Irving chooses great color palettes to catch your attention. The book definitely stands out when you see it on the shelf. To be fair, the story did suck me in almost immediately once I began reading it.
Jason Starr wrote a compelling story that is reminiscent of the zombie tales that we’re familiar with, or rather accustomed to hearing. The only difference being there are no zombies and it’s not post-apocalyptic. It’s just a group of people who have had near-death experiences. If you’ve read the first three issues then you already know the effect this has had on people in the story. This issue picked up right where “The Returning #3″ left off. It’s as if Starr wrote the entire story then split it into four, choosing places that would keep you interested enough to read the next. There are plenty of unexpected twists and turns in the story that make it fun to read. Starr does have a couple lines seem a bit cliche for action scenes, but they work and are forgivable in this setting.
Overall, I’m not a fan of the artwork. I expected cleaner lines and easier reading from Andrea Mutti. This wasn’t a problem when reading previous issues in this series. There are pages that come across as nothing more than a jumbled mess. Some of the art looked lazy or rushed. Mutti has so many shadows it makes it hard to determine if it’s for dramatic effect or simply not wanting to add detail. Then there were things that appeared oversimplified compared to the rest of the detail given in the same panel, in some instances within one person’s appearance.
I did have an issue with the gutters in this issue. It’s not normally something I would pay attention to, but they caught my attention this time. The gutters are black throughout the whole book except for half a page. I may not have noticed except the panels had a noticeable border. It makes these panels stick out when the story contained in them isn’t anything of great importance. In fact, it’s the only time you see white gutters in all four issues. I checked to be sure I didn’t miss something. This issue definitely lacks some continuity for me when it comes to the art. That being said Mutti still created panels that told the story and carried you onto the next page.
One of my other issues with this book was the way the script was incorporated with the art. I have no issues with Starr’s writing, it’s easy to follow. Once you add it to panels that changes. There is an instance where you’re jumping between panels to read one exchange. That would have been fine if I wasn’t already trying to figure out what order to read text in because of the insets. That starts with the first page. It looks like it would have been fine as a splash page, but then there are three insets. All of that for two sentences. Then there are the pages with so much going on in the panels it was difficult to read. Personally, I like things to be streamlined.
The use of sound effects is another thing that bothered me while reading. There are moments when it is necessary, but this was overkill. I hope I never have to read the word “blam” or “wee-o” again in my life. I also felt there was an over use of a couple specific facial expressions by the entire cast of characters. I’m not sure if that was due to a time crunch or if Andrea Mutti thought they all needed to make the same face. Either way, I would have liked a larger variety.
This is listed as issue #4 of 4 and I’m left wanting more out of the story. The loose ends allow for a continuation, and I hope that Starr decides to pursue the story further. Definitely read the first three issues before attempting to read this one, otherwise you’ll be lost. As a mini-series, I did expect questions to be answered in this issue. I walked away with a few questions I had starting with the first issue, but the important ones were answered.
“The Returning #4″ earns 7.5 / 10