Written by: Ed Brisson
Published by: Image Comics
Ed Brisson and John Christmas have been building towards the finite ending to Sheltered since the series began. They’ve recently announced that the series will be ending with the release of its 15th issue. With issue #10 this week they’ve reached a critical time for their book, where events should begin to spiral into the climax.
For the most part this issue is subdued, relying on Brisson and Christmas’s ability to generate empathic characters and complex group dynamics. The pacing of this moodier, more conversational approach to this issue works well considering the razors-edge we’ve been teetering on since this series began and the explosive violence of last issue.
The stakes don’t seem quite as high as they could for this series, since we’re really only given a small group of characters to care about. This intense personal focus draws us into the terror of being trapped in a group of misguided teenagers that want to kill you or the possibility of never seeing your family again because you took an extra job for the money. Tightly packed and focussed character drama is what this series is all about and the tremendous splash page that ends this issue hits works best as an emotional pay-off than as a spectre of things to come.
Brisson and Christmas pull off a strong ending to “Sheltered #10” and while it shouldn’t take too many readers by surprise, the final page still breaks your heart a bit and leaves you wondering “what could possibly come next?”. For ages it seems that the fuse has been lit and we’re waiting for the bomb to finally blow. I wonder if this issue has provided that spark and the explosion is right around the corner.
Christmas is an artist that I wasn’t familiar with prior to his work on Sheltered but in the ten issues his ability to stitch together graphic violence and more intimate personal moments have made me a fan. His style certainly fits this kind story and vice versa. He doesn’t have the skill-set that you look at and scream “Get this man on Superman, stat!” but “Sheltered #10” is a good example of why his art can totally work outside of that genre.
I believe that Christmas’s visuals are actually dragged down quite a bit by the colours again here in this issue. Shari Chankhamma opts for a subdued colour palette for this series which works in theory but the result is too bland to be compelling and atmospheric. A particular annoyance is that the majority of the characters are white, not as in Caucasian, but as in the literal shade. Whether this is intentional for some reason doesn’t change the fact that it doesn’t look very good on the page and, for me, really distracts and detracts from the matter at hand.
“Sheltered #10” is a well-paced and executed comic that follows up the exciting issue from last month with tensely plotted character drama. Brisson and Christmas have set the table for a terrific, tragic and violent end to this series and now they must begin the build up to the tense final moments. They’re entering into the 7th inning and really need to start cashing in base-runners. If this issue is any indication, the creative team knows exactly what they’re doing.