In Review: Backways #2

A mesmerizing story with brilliant visuals make this a can't miss experience.

The cover: Anna Merrick looks behind her before she enters a doorway to an unknown location. Crows scatter before the person watching her leave — only the mysterious character’s hands can be seen. This is a terrific atmospheric cover by Eleonora Carlini with Silvia Tidei on colors. The setting on this is beautiful: glowing circular lights pepper a city, which features a combination of new and old architecture. The doorway casts an incredible strong white light, drawing the reader to Anna. The pale violet sky colors the buildings, giving the entire locale a magic quality. This is a great teaser of what lies within this issue. Overall grade: A

The story: A huge home in a desolate snow covered setting houses a man who writes at a desk. He looks outside and spies a crow on the window sill. He rubs his eyes and says, “Just be the one crow. Please.” Unfortunately there are over a dozen of the creatures flitting about his yard. “>Sigh< Of Course. Hello, Wendy.” Within his study is the short robed woman from last issue, complete with a crow on her shoulder. She speaks, but makes no sense to the man, that is unless she can give him better context. “The Outsider,” she says, prompting the man to strongly state that person is gone. Wendy says she’s calling the Quorum because “You are needed.” She leaves via a portal, causing him to curse as he goes into another room and open a trunk. He pulls on a coat and reaches for his cache of guns and knives. “After all these years. After all that’s happened…They still need me to clean up their messes.” This ominous opening is left unresolved because writer Justin Jordan returns to Anna and Coyote Bones who have just entered the Backways last issue. Coyote Bones confirms to Anna that magic is real and shows her the different inhabitants of this land: Warpers, who can warp the shape of physical things; Weepers, who can hear your thoughts; Whisperers, who can talk to the dead; Workers, who imbue a knack into an object; and Walkers, who can open paths. As they make their way Coyote Bones is told by several people that she owes them. She laughs this off until Anna discovers they’re being followed. A chase begins and has the pair placed before Fell, Finder of Lost Children and Lost Things. He has an ability that gives some backstory on both protagonists, that only ends when one of the heroines does something unexpected. It’s impressive how easily Jordan establishes this magical side street and explains those that inhabit it. This allows him to get to an action sequence quickly and establish the threat for the issue. Also good is the new character introduced in the beginning of the issue who’s on a mysterious mission. The magic of this setting has caught me in its spell. Overall grade: A

The art: The visuals on this book capture the spirit of manga quite well. Eleonora Carlini’s artwork resembles that of a Japanese comic book, but every image is her own creation. The book opens on a desolate house with a lone crow in a snow covered tree before moving inside where its sole occupant works on something at a desk. The panel where he rubs his eyes smoothly communicates to the reader that he believes he can trust what he’s seen. The numerous ebony birds around his house is humorous and ominous. Wendy’s appearance on Page 2 is great, with the short robed woman, who has a crow on her shoulder, looking fierce, were it not for the warm smile on her face. However, with the mention of the Outsider she turns menacing. The calm demeanor of the man during Wendy’s visit is eerie and only increases as he puts on his coat and gathers his weapons. Page 4 shifts the action to the Backways, which is a visually exciting location. People of every age, size, and shape populate its busy streets, creating or using objects on different scales. Coyote Bones is the perfect guide for Anna, as she’s enamored with the place, while also miffed that so many individuals are not happy with her. Coyote looks the best on Page 6, with her flashing a dazzling, cheeky smile and a feigned look of shock. The attack on 8 is amazing, creating a sensational sense of action. Fell is a delightfully disgusting character who steals every page he’s on, and not just due to his size. The character that appears on 16 is awesome and how Carlini is able to insert this individual into the action is fantastic. How the book’s confrontation ends is explosive. I’m loving all the details that Carlini puts into her work and cannot wait to see more of it. Overall grade: A+

The colors: The colors of this book by Silvia Tidei create magic on every page. On the first page Tidei creates a great tone of normalcy with the calm oranges and browns of the man’s windows when seen from outside. Inside the colors remain the same, allowing for a smooth transition in point of view and to lull the reader into thinking nothing can happen here. Wendy’s dark colors deaden the colors of the man’s home and when she mentions the Outsider she goes a pasty white. The streets of the Backways are pink, making every panel like a dream. Only when the women are chased do the colors change, going a sickly orange. Ultimately the colors turn green when in the presence of Fell, which match his grotesque design. 18 has Tidei using yellows and oranges to great effect. This book’s superior art climbs even higher with Tidei’s contributions. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, Wendy’s naming of names, yells, sounds, and the tease for next issue are created by Marshall Dillon. With all the details in the art it’s good to see that Dillon can do his work without overpowering a panel; though there is a key scene at the end where dialogue must overlap and he makes it look so cool. There aren’t as many sounds in the book as I’d like to see, but it’s not Dillon’s decision on what to include. I am enjoying what he’s doing. Overall grade: A

The final line: The title location is explored and explained, with trouble coming from a giant sized youngster. A mesmerizing story with brilliant visuals make this a can’t miss experience. Recommended! Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five 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.
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