PANTOMIME #2, out now from Mad Cave Studios, is the second issue of the crime miniseries by writer Christopher Sebela, artist David Stoll, colorist Dearbhla Kelly, and letterer Justin Birch. This issue meets the high expectations set by the first wonderful issue and amazes the readers with new, imaginative ways in which it tells its exciting story.
About the issue:
The Manager has broken into the lives of our teen criminals and pulls them further into the darkness. Giving them a crook’s playground to train their skills to send them out on jobs for him. Can the kids get out before it’s too late, or will The Manager swallow them up?
Sebela opens Pantomime #2 with a panel of Kestrel glancing at the reader in a look filled with horror, telling us: “We’re all gonna die.” This throws the readers right back to where the first issue has left off, reminding us of the dangers lying in their new situation. These kids are robbers, and one day, they’ll probably get caught. Throughout the issue, the reader and the main characters keep forgetting that this job is incredibly perilous. It might be because they’re just kids, and we think nothing bad will happen to them, or because the main character, Haley, explains to us how the kids were able to find the fun in their tough training to become masterful robbers.
But every time the characters feel in charge and think they can outsmart their adult captors, Sebela violently bursts their bubble so effectively whereby the end, the reader isn’t so sure the kids will even get out of their situation alive.
Stoll handles those moments of danger beautifully. Whether it’s a character getting cut by a razor or the captors revealing they know everything about the teens’ families, each moment is filled with great terror and dread. Stoll uses everything at his disposal, like the use of clever angles or extreme close-ups of violent acts, to help Sebela further elevate the feeling of unsafety. Coupled with great narration and clear facial expressions, the reader leaves each event slightly traumatized. They begin to feel the danger in the air even when it’s not present.
Kelly brilliantly chooses never to romanticize the teens’ criminal lives with her colors. Kelly could’ve colored the scenes where the kids steal and lie in bold colors to help Pantomime #2 feel more alive and fun. But with each new opportunity, Kelly decides against it. Kelly colors most of the crimes in a frigid and grim manner. This again helps the reader feel the taste of danger in the air.
This especially rings true in the montage sequence taking place after the teens steal for the Manager for the first time. In this montage, Kelly uses natural light and overemphasizes it. At day, where the kids are at school, their mundane actions are colored brightly and beautifully. But at night, when the kids commit crimes, their actions are colored in the exact opposite way. This creates an ingenious juxtaposition and emphasizes how these kids basically have two very different lives.
Birch continues to deliver the goods with its effective lettering work. Each balloon or caption is placed in the right place, guiding the reader’s eye easily through every page. I personally liked to see more of the use of captions inside dialogue balloons when the Manager talks to the teens. This simple yet smart choice helps the reader feel like they never left Haley’s point of view throughout this comic’s entirety. Great work from Birch.
Pantomime #2 plays with the reader’s emotions brilliantly. It continues to excite the reader and immerse them in this realistic yet new world. The creators choose to make a point of un-romanticizing the life of crime these teens took on. Please do yourselves a favor and pick up this comic. It is truly one of the most exciting miniseries of 2020.