Story: Warren Ellis
Art: Jason Howard
What They Say:
Blindhail Station is a research post on Svalbard, in the Arctic Ocean, where observers have been watching a Tree since it landed ten years earlier. Out here, out of sight of the world, something is changing. And it’s going to change everything.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
One of the fun things about an approach that’s being taken here in telling the story is that as we get deeper into certain characters and a lot of time is spent on them, you wonder how it’ll all factor into the final work and what level of importance some of the details have to them. The exploration of the characters in these new normalized settings are definitely interesting to watch unfold since we see people at very different social levels across the world interacting with each other and the Trees in very different ways. People can normalize big events in strange ways in order to cope with it to be sure, but it’s seeing those that shake off those constraints and find new ways to deal with it that tend to be the most interesting. And Trees definitely plays with several of those characters.
Eligia in particular is definitely going all out with what she’s learned from the Professor in her desire to change her place in the world, accepting her being a tool for him to use for the time being. She’s certainly proven to be a survivor in what we’ve seen of her so far in the city of Cefalu and how she’s managed to manage being attached to her boyfriend of sorts. But now we see her using what she’s learned (off page) to try and get more information out of him in order to take control of some sort herself and use the information he has. He’s not exactly the swiftest boat in the dock so she gets a lot from him and starts to use others to gain more access as well. What her plans are remain a mystery at the moment, but it’ll also be interesting to see what the Professor’s plans are as well since he seems to be working a very different game.
What made this issue really interesting to me is the amount of time it spent with Chenglei. We’ve gotten some good stuff from him since his arrival in Shu, which ended with him getting lucky in a group with Zhen in the previous installment. Here, he’s really grappling with what happened while trying to not let it get away from him. What’s done well is that we see that he’s not shocked or upset about it but rather wants to make sure that when he reveals his true self to Zhen that she doesn’t think it’s because he’s just an infatuated schoolboy, so to speak. There’s a lot of good stuff mixed in about gender, identity in general here and the desires of people while also tackling provincial nature and a bit of the history of Shu in how it started and became what it is. How much this impacts the larger story remains to be seen, but there’s a lot to like in seeing how Chenglei works through this while talking with the “uncle” at his residence. What tops it is what we see when Chenglei reveals himself to Zhen as you get that kind of connection that just clicks quickly and works well coming to light.
This issue works heavily with those two storylines, dominating it in a good way while the Trees themselves are again background. We do get three pages of them, showing how the flowers are impacting things in Norway in two of them and then seeing Rahim’s troops atop the other, but it’s more curious than revelatory. It does feel like change is in the air though between the two of them. Which is why it’s good that the issue is so top heavy with character material to make us invest in Eligia and Chenglei more. Will they meet? Will they shape the world in some big way? Or are they just small ripples that will lead to something else? The layering here is quite good to be sure and it’s enhanced by some great artwork that makes a dialogue heavy issue once again engaging to read and to delve into the details of.
Age Rating: 17+
Released By: Image Comics via ComiXology
Release Date: October 15th, 2014