Story: George Mann
Art: Joe Eisma
Colors: Michael Garland
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
What They Say:
Free of the hex that has plagued it, the ghoulem’s head begins to reveal its secrets—but its reawakening does not go unnoticed. Meanwhile, Joss, Ichabod and the others attend the ‘morning ceremony’ of their late friend, where tensions run high, and the Celestials pay a visit to the shantytown to make pronouncements on the water crisis.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The opening installment of this series was one that I definitely found to be interesting but it operated in a way that kept me at a bit of distance with the narration and style. Those barriers dropped with this issue and George Mann has me all-in on this now if they’re able to take it long enough to really drive home an engaging story. All the right pieces are here and I finished out this second issue excited for the next. Joe Eisma continues to be a really strong piece of making this work with his style, reminding me of some of my favorite indie works from the 80s market that would be stylish and interesting in how the layouts are done and just the design of the world and characters to keep me even more engaged with it, resulting in a book that becomes memorable.
This installment is a bit more focused as we get a decent chunk of time with Ichabod and Joss as they have to deal with the ceremony for their lost comrade while they were out. This introduces its own problems as we see how some think Ichabod is pushing on these missions in order to continue his relationship with Joss, but since the two aren’t actually intimate it’s just a mess that sets Ichabod off. That said, the whole thing is definitely interesting to watch beyond that as we see the funeral ceremony and those are always interesting culturally in what they show, whether real or fictional, and this one has some neat little elements to it all that makes for a really good read and helps to expand the identity of the series. This is even more so as we see Leo come to this location in order to pontificate a bit for the glory of the Celestials while keeping things square on the water crisis. It again works to show how people react to those in power and the level of subservience that exists and what the radicals are like.
What really got me hooked fully with this issue was the back half as we see Joss going to work more on the ghoulem after putting in some new patterns to try and figure it out. She’s managed to trigger something that has caught the attention of Aquarius that will set more chaos in motion, but watching as she interacts with the ghoulem as it’s operating far clearer here in talking about how the world is still in a pre-colonization state and that it must deal with this issue raises my interest significantly. It was kind of a given that it would go in this route but the execution is strong, Joss’s excitement is infectious, and it puts so much in position for the longer run that it does have me wanting this to run for a couple dozen issues that it could take to properly tell the story. These are quickly characters, situations, and initial settings that I want to see explored and expanded upon.
Engineward caught my attention with the stylish covers that are distinctive and really do draw the eye. Once inside, the book has to prove itself, however. The first issue offered up a lot of interesting ideas but the presentation left me just a touch distanced from it. This issue pushes me all-in on what’s going on as it’s very character focused, explores the society and rituals well, digs into some neat things with the Celestials, and speaks to a larger storyline that goes back who knows how far. It’s definitely worth reading both issues at one time to get the big picture and push but this installment has me excited to see what comes next and how Joe Eisma will illustrate it as his design work is going to be key to really making it work.