In Review: Moth & Whisper #2

You just can't predict where this is going. Grab a copy!

The cover: This is a fantastic cover from Jen Hickman. Niki is running in a white suit and behind the protagonist are all the identities the hero can assume as father Moth used to do. I love the variety of characters in the background and I love that Niki gets the focus due to the exceptional coloring, placing this character in all white and the others in a muted red on black. It’s a very sci-fi noir cover. I love this. Overall grade: A+

The story: Ted Anderson’s second issue opens with Niki waking up and making plans for the day. Niki decides to dress as Khalil Morris, “He’s a false identity. Every aspect of his life is managed by an algorithm on an offshore server farm.” Niki’s father goes on to say in flashback, “Your mother and I have set up six of these identities for you: false faces you can wear in public, covers no one will question.” As Khalil, Niki goes into an unsavory section of the city to purchase codes from data seller Carbon. After they make their transaction, the criminal asks if Khalil is still looking for city codes. They’re expensive, but Niki buys them because “I need municipal network access.” However, it’s the original purchase that’s the book’s focus, because Niki is going to a party held by uber criminal Derry Waverly. What Niki wants from this antagonist’s house is neat, but, naturally things don’t go easy when Derry’s son Walter is attracted to Niki’s disguise as Aada. Their banter is outstanding as they dance and I so appreciate that Anderson doesn’t make it easy for the lead. Pages 13 and 14 had me reacting as Niki does. But Niki isn’t going without a fight, and the final eight pages are nail biters. I love the no nonsense story; this is as hard boiled and scheming as any classic thriller, it’s just set in the future. Walter is an excellent addition to the cast of characters and I’m hoping to see more of this possible villain. This story continues to impress. Overall grade: A

The art and colors: I am such a fan of Jen Hickman’s visuals. I like that Niki appears to be a frail character when not wearing a mask, but once in disguise the persona changes Niki, but still maintains just enough of the character’s original look to make the change believable. The flashback on Page 2 reminds the reader of one of the characters Niki is searching for and Hickman colors this page with grays, giving it the feel of old photographs which is appropriate for a dated moment. The first panel on the third page uses a harsh orange for the background, alerting the reader to a return to the present and to make Niki’s movements in this locale dangerous. I also like that Khalil’s glasses are given an orange shade to draw the reader’s eyes. Carbon is a wonderfully designed character. The criminal is futuristic looking, but not over-the-top sci-fi. I like how the second and third panels on Page 5 are from Niki’s point of view, with that hand in the foreground cool. Aada is another excellently designed facade. The entrance into the Waverly compound has several neat visuals to inform the reader of the tight security. Walter has a neat look, with his jacket and cravat giving him an elegance, almost like a character from Hamilton. His outfit and Niki’s are excellent lead-ins to the sequence on Pages 12 – 14. The other identity on 15 is awesome: very Matrix-like, but absolutely necessary for what Niki is going to do. I really like the last panel on 17, which shows a character, a weapon, and the justification for the character’s appearance. It’s just perfection. I love the physicality of the characters in the pages that follow. Sometimes action is hard to follow in a book or the artist forgoes the background to focus on the fighting. Hickman does neither: the action is so smooth and the backgrounds remain. This is so enjoyable to see in a comic! That’s the perfect word for Hickman’s work: enjoyable. Hickman captures the humanity in this futuristic society where technology only increases the tension. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Marshall Dillon is the book’s letterer and he creates broadcasts, narration and dialogue (the same font), Carbon’s speech, Weaver’s text, whispered dialogue, sounds, and the tease for next issue. The dialogue makes it appear that everyone who speaks is weak, but it wonderfully belies the truth. The way Carbon communicates is a perfect match for the way he (?) looks. Weaver’s text is also cool. The tease for next issue looks like something from a 1930’s film. I love Dillon’s work. Overall grade: A

The final line: This is one of the most intriguing books on the stand because one can’t predict where this is going. A fantastic mashup of sci-fi, noir, and mystery. The visuals compliment this story exceedingly well, with futuristic realism dominating. You just can’t predict where this is going. Grab a copy! 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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