Released October 7th from Dark Horse, writer Cullen Bunn and illustrator Miguel Valderrama continue their four-part series in the second issue. Providing colors and lettering are Jason Wordie and Frank Cvetkovic, respectively.
Valderrama’s kinetic and expressive style complements Bunn’s economical writing. The result is an evenly-paced, enticing issue that builds upon Nadia’s (the protagonist) struggle with survivor’s guilt and PTSD.
Issue two begins with a short continuation of the interview from issue one, which acts as a teaser. From there, the action picks up right where it left off. One of Nadia’s teammates, Gordon, gets hit in their firefight. Unable to resist, Nadia immediately goes into rescue mode to save her teammate.
But the firefight and recognition of the client trigger a flashback in Nadia. At that moment, Wordie’s color palette warms and brightens while Valderrama builds on a visual motif set by the cover art. The flashback reveals that she was actually dating Dobbs, the teammate killed by her current client.
A flashback to a normal date gets interrupted by a bullet to Dobbs’ head in the middle of the issue. Valderrama drew the page as a shattered mirror, parsing out each action and reaction in a broken shard. In effect, the page captures how devastating and world-changing the violent death of a loved one is.
Heightening the drama and dreamy quality of the page is dead Dobbs continuing to speak. Nadia and Dobbs’ preceding conversation was about the importance of their job. So Dobbs continues, expressing his view that it’s more than a paycheck while Nadia seems not to be taking it as seriously. Thus, within this visceral mosaic, we understand the root of Nadia’s personal and professional pain.
Nadia is a medic, a healer working to save people who may not deserve it for the profit of a corporation. For Nadia, Dobbs represents the higher purpose of the job. All this to say, the stakes for her are high in being forced to save the killer of her boyfriend.
Now, with Gordon’s death, Nadia has been pushed to an emotional breaking point. But just as Nadia raises her sidearm to the back of the killer’s head, the issue ends. Bunn’s cliffhangers would be infuriating if everything weren’t so well set up. At this point, the satisfying balance of shocks and slow character reveals make you wish the series were longer than four issues.