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Welcome Back #2 by writer Christopher Sebela and artist Jonathan Brandon Sawyer, continues from where the last issue ended with Mali starting to awaken and regain all of the memories that she acquired from her previous incarnations. Now that she is aware of the century spanning unending war that is going on around her, Mali goes on the run to rejoin her ancient order with some help from her step-dad who was reincarnated as a little girl, while Voss now known as Tessa, is closing in on Mali to continue the cycle of death and rebirth that these two rivals constantly undergo.
Since we’re now on the second issue, most of the questions which were given to us have been answered, with some still left to be dealt with in future issues. We get to see how Mali manages to adjust to her new life as a solider after being asleep much longer than she should have been, leaving her old life behind. While remembering who she has been over the past few centuries, she still remembers who she is now and struggles to accept her fate as once again being a part of a ridiculous war. Her reincarnated step-father is a perfect example to the readers of how the whole live-die-live-again cycle works for these beings. While he may not psychically be the same person that she knew before, he still cares for Mali as his daughter and seems to work behind the scenes to help her out whenever he can.
We also get to see a little bit more of Tessa in this issue but I still can’t quite get a read on this character. She has obviously been awake a lot longer in this current life than Mali, and appears to have been in quite a good numbers of fights over the past couple of years. I’m not really sure if Sebela’s plan for the story is to show how the two opposing enemies start from point A and then show them both get to point B with them eventually doing battle in the end or if Tessa is going to do something different this time around and maybe team up with Mali to try to escape their inevitable fate? Like I said, pretty hard to tell, and I do like a story that can keep me guessing.
As with the last issue of Welcome Back, this one also suffers from a little too much narration and exposition. However, we are given a lot of important information pertaining to this “war” and how the characters fit into it. This is critical, as we are now at the halfway point of the series so we need to get all of the important stuff in before reaching the conclusion.
The art by Sawyer is absolutely perfect for the story. I really love the small touches during the fight scenes when a character is seen fighting and the shadows of their past lives are visible in mid-attack. This really helps convey both how long the character has been in this game as well as where and when they learned particular moves. Several of the pages towards the end were actually drawn by Claire Roe instead of Sawyer. While the two art styles don’t differ by that much and both styles are by no means terrible, it just seems kind of jarring to see the sudden shift in style from Sawyer to Roe’s work which kind of takes away from the immersion of the story a bit.
Welcome Back #2 continues to exceed expectations with its engaging storytelling, beautiful artwork, and intriguing characters. It’s only real flaws come from a little too much exposition and a slight change of art style on the last few pages. It’s a shame there are only two more issues left in this series. There’s so much material here which could easily work for an ongoing over a miniseries and I’m not even sure how they plan to end this whole thing with all that was set up yet. Either way I’m looking forward to seeing how the other half of this engaging story turns out.
FINAL SCORE: 8 out of 10