REAVER #11, available from Image Comics on September 9th, pits Rekala and Breaker against Stagger for the lives of his prisoners. Justin Jordan’s story connects all the dots to bring this arc to a satisfying and violent conclusion.
Becky Cloonan’s cover stands out for the copious and layered use of red. Red denotes anger. Red represents blood and violence. Red indicates death and rebirth. This issue contains all those aspects of red and more.
Writing [No Spoilers]
Jordan’s story cuts right to the flashback that explains the surprise reveal at the end of the last issue: Stagger’s identity. Once Stagger’s motives are made clear, Rekala’s role as skin eater is fully activated, and the climactic battle begins. Throughout this series, you could make the case that Breaker and Rekala are unrealistically unbreakable, but here, they’re pushed to their limit, and that makes them more relatable. Their heroism is not fully realized until they have to overcome enemies truly stronger than them, and Jordan wisely makes sure they take a fair bit of damage.
Since I’ve started reviewing this series, Rekala has quickly become my favorite breakout character, and Jordan keeps up her appeal with witty jibes and vicious attacks. The end of this arc is not the end of the duo’s story, but I’m looking forward to seeing more of the sharp-toothed imp’s exploits.
Niko Henrichon’s art stands out for his grounded take on hand-to-hand combat. Bones snap at gut-cringing angles. Blades slice flesh at searing angles. There’s nothing “clean” about Henrichon’s fights, as it should be, to match the story. You feel grimy after this issue, and that’s precisely the effect Henrichon was going for.
One small observation, Henrichon excels at making characters with crazy eyes. The making potion is a sort of hyper steroid that gives the consumer berzerker strength for a short time. It adds to the element of danger when Stagger’s men take the potion, and they come at Rekala, and Breaker amped up to 11. When you see the men coming, you can’t help but think: “It’s about to get nasty.”
Henrichon’s colors shine best when the scenes move from outside to inside. The warm yellows and oranges glow from torchlight inside, giving the fight scenes the effect of watching Vikings battling in a longhouse. Just from color alone, Henrichon makes you believe you’re watching the scenes unfold through the lens of looking into the past.
Clayton Cowles’ lettering adds to the ancient setting with a font choice that barely hints at Nordic lettering, again alluding to a Viking motif. Also, there’s more than a little exposition going on to tie up the story, and the Cowle’s lettering breaks up the sometimes lengthy dialog into just the right chunks to make the reading easy and keep the pace up.
REAVER #11, available from Image Comics on September 9th, wraps up the latest arc, answers all the questions, and leaves you wanting more. The main characters have taken a big step toward embracing their place in the world, and the art is gritty bloody fun. I highly recommend REAVER #11.