The cover: Diana Westby made the wrong decision and the city has paid the price. She has been having visions of an apocalypse consuming the city and only she has the ability to stop it. Again and again a nuclear holocaust destroys all that she knows, and again only she remains untouched. Dressed in her clothes to work at a small shop, she’s ready to resume her regimen as the metropolis blazes. Good emotional cover from Francesco Francavilla. I like the lost look on Diana’s face and the fires that engulf everything. Overall grade: A
The story: The final chapter of “The Way In” by J. Michael Straczynski opens with Diana staring out her apartment window trying to fathom why she’s been having these visions and why it’s happening to her. She’s suddenly taken to the future where she’s tearing down a street in a black car. She checks her watch, seeing there’s still time–she has twelve minutes before the bomb detonates. Far away, her target crosses a street carrying a duffle bag containing mass destruction. He too checks his watch, raises his hands as he gives a silent prayer, and enters a building when suddenly…something happens. Dynamite opening sequence by Straczynski who closes out this storyline with one of the most heartfelt commentaries on modern life that I’ve ever read. Diana is the perfectly torn character: she’s damned if she acts and the city is damned if she doesn’t. What is she to do? Page 8 is a painful sequence of memories that shouldn’t matter in the scheme of things, but they are moments that shape individuals. Sadly and brilliantly, Straczynski has created relatable scenes that, hopefully, readers haven’t had too many of. Pages 14 – 19 are beautifully written, condemning and hopeful for change. The final coda for Diana will shake readers out of their seats without the use of a magical coin. This story is frightening and thoughtful and perfectly and home in The Twilight Zone. But wait!–The final page returns to a character who’s been seen in the previous seven issues, looking for something and then seeming to disappear once found. His full tale looks to be told next. Overall grade: A+
The art: Incredible artwork on every page by Guiu Vilanova. His layout is awesome. This book looks like a storyboard for a feature film. The opening panel on the first page establishes the apartment complex, then moving to a shot of our protagonist lost in her thoughts, the next panel closes in on the background of the city above her head, ending in a nuclear explosion in the city. Page 2 has her looking up, begging for help from an invisible God, slowly closing in on her eyes until all goes back (A classic Twilight Zone directorial technique), until her face reappears. The next page has a highly detailed street with her car tearing along. The panels on this page are diagonal to emphasize the frenzied skew her life has taken. The flashback pages of her life are set out like pieces of broken glass, showing her shattered past. My favorite pages are 14 – 19, which had to be Vilanova’s nightmare to create. To say the settings are minimalistic is an understatement. Two characters comprise these pages and Vilanova moves the reader through every possible angle to milk each line of dialogue to perfection. Vilanova is a drawing god on this book. Overall grade: A+
The colors: Reality is the key to coloring this issue for Vinicius Andrade. His city is not a drably colored society, nor an over-the-top garish mecca, but a perfectly balanced environment that is as real as things can be, only to be overcome with color when the bomb goes off. Black is used for tremendous effect to isolate characters on the stage of the page. The faded colors of the flashback show the age of the episodes and also show how Diana is killing a piece of her soul with each decision. A bright red is expertly applied in a graphic killing and in a car that Diana acquires. The coloring on this is sensational. Overall grade: A+
The letters: Narration, titles, dialogue, sounds, the time, broadcast fonts, and a business card come courtesy of Rob Steen and Dave Lanphear. I dare you not to “hear” the narration in Rod Serling’s voice. Overall grade: A+
The final line: A nightmare caused by a coin has a woman confront a future she feels she can’t change. If she doesn’t, we all die. Perfection at every level earns this my highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.