Written by: Antony Johnston
Published by: Image Comics
With issue #5 in the books this series has probably already found its audience. So if you’re reading this book you’ll be pleased to know that this issue is probably the strongest of this series to date. Writer Antony Johnston addresses some of the things this story has been lacking, while also pulling threads together and bringing a hammer-like cliffhanger down on you on the last page. Artist Justin Greenwood really impresses with the science-fiction inspired scenes but struggles to deliver consistent character designs and has some trouble with the framing of certain panels.
The Fuse is a series that doesn’t quite have the stuff to break into the upper echelon of Image Comics’ books. Its characters aren’t as engaging, its art doesn’t blow you away and the story is solid but not ground-breaking. I know that sounds like a lot of negatives but you shouldn’t go into this book expecting something quite like you’re getting in its contemporaries.
What it does do though is tell a fun and interesting mystery that features a gimmick that still feels a little under-used. More so than ever before this issue really seems to take advantage of the space station setting. We get to see, rather than be told, the divide between the classes and the drastic difference that you would think would lead to the tension talked about by the characters when they mention the “race riots” of the past.
The lead characters make for interesting partners more because of the mystery than because of their own merits. Neither character seems to have really managed to transcend the story and demand the attention of the reader. It doesn’t really hold the story back, but it does prevent it from hitting the next level.
Greenwood has a style that won’t work for some readers. For my part, I find that there are times when the art actually gets in the way of my enjoyment of the story. Characters aren’t drawn with enough consistency, the colours (by Shari Chankhamma) result in a blandly coloured book that doesn’t take enough chances, and there were some noticeable framing problems where characters looked awkward because of their placement or seemed disproportionate to their surroundings.
I hate to say it, but I think that the visuals are holding this book back. They just aren’t quite good enough for what we’ve come to expect from an Image title. There are moments when the art works just fine, which leads me to believe that Greenwood has a killer issue in him, but we’ve yet to see it in The Fuse. Johnston should be commended for the strongest script of the series so far and making me excited for the conclusion in a month’s time. Learning a bit more about the background of the station and the characters this issue was a win as well. The Fuse is a fine comic but don’t expect it to top the stack of your books the week it comes out.