ENGINEWARD #5, available from Vault Comics on November 18th, reveals the origins of the Shades and opens Joss’ eyes to the real threat to her people. George Mann’s story picks up the pace from the prior issue as the race for the seed turns into a full-on sprint.
Joe Eisma puts Scorpio front and center for this month’s issue. The yellow eyes pop on the page, but the excess purple and black lose some of the focus on the main character. It’s an interesting cover but not the best of the series so far.
Mann’s story definitely moves the story forward issue by giving readers the backstory on the Shades. That backstory not only connects the dots to Joss’s quest, but it makes some surprising connections to predicaments faced by one of Joss’s friends.
“Surprise” is really the key to this issue that makes it satisfying. The story up to this point has fallen squarely in the slow burn category, which is fine to a point, but eventually, you’ve got to get things moving. Mann dispels the mystery of the Shades, enlightens Joss’s group to the true nature of the Celestials, and gives their goal some tangible stakes.
The issue is well-paced, answers more questions than the previous four issues combined, and gives the reader plenty of forward progress.
Eisma’s artwork is solid in this issue. There’s plenty of action to go around, so Eisma takes the opportunity to select plenty of interesting panel angles and kinetic movement.
New to this issue is the inclusion of the Shade and his unique “powers.” The Shade is the highlight of the issue for its use of technology that is a unique mix of digital magic. To be frank, the Shade is much more interesting and enjoyable to read than the Celestials.
What doesn’t quite work is Eisma’s excessive use of 6-panel grids on nearly every page. Many of the scenes looked small and crowded, and the issue would have benefited from opening up the gird pattern more frequently.
Michael Garland’s color work is spot on for maximizing the effective presentation of the Shade. Its costume is alien-like in a captivating way with the mix of textures and highlights, and the glowing translucence of its powers is very engaging.
Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s lettering work is especially interesting, again, for the dialog of the Shade. It speaks in an unknown language with the help of a translator droid, and the language characters are sufficiently alien to give its origin that much more authenticity. this is a nice bit of creativity from Otsmane-Elhaou that enhances the story even more.
ENGINEWARD #5, available from Vault Comics on November 18th, takes a big step forward in pace and plot to make for a more engaging story. The reveals are all satisfying, and the art is generally solid. This is a recommended buy.