REAVER #8, out now from Image, brings the impish Rekala and gigantic Essen Breaker (“Ess”) back together to stop Stagger from abducting the townschildren. Justin Jordan’s writing and Niko Henrichon’s art combine for a high fantasy chapter that’s surprisingly introspective.
Becky Cloonan’s cover is mesmerizing. Rekala needs to bleed to stop the working, and yet her pose is calm rapture. The stark contrast of her bleeding arms, combined with her shock of red hair, turn a peaceful water scene into malevolent magic.
Justin Jordan picks up the story immediately where the prior issue left off. Rekala arrives to save Ess from Stagger, and she quickly proves that going with the smaller opponent is not always the best choice. After the rescue, Ess and Rekala catch each other up on their exploits while separated. The impact of their solo (mis)adventures cause them both to question their purpose and motivations on the current mission.
While there’s plenty of action in this book, it’s the character development that elevates the issue beyond your basic high adventure. Ess, in particular, has seen more than his share of violence and considers at what point does his life stop revolving around bloodshed. At what point does a soldier stop being a soldier, if ever?
Jordan catches you off guard with the giant’s thoughtfulness when you least expect it. This issue promises character development and maturity that’s more nuanced than you would expect.
Nobody in Henrichon’s art is pretty, and that serves the issue well. From Stagger to Ess to Rekala, all of Henrichon’s characters are battle-weary, worn and scarred. The imperfections give each character more depth and authenticity to match the roughness of the harbor town they’re in. Henrichon has drawn warriors that look like they’ve been fighting all their lives.
Henrichon’s color are largely muted throughout the issue. Instead of creating a bland atmosphere, the muted colors provide a harsh contrast to the bloody action. Reds pop violently for emphasis, and the harsh yellows of the orphanage fire practically make the characters sweat on the page form the heat. Excellent use of color for impact by Henrichon.
In between action, Jordan has peppered in a fair bit of dialog for the characters to open up to each other. Henrichon’s lettering expertly moves the readers eyes through the panels to keep up the pace without interfering with the characters’ facial expressions. Faces are so important to the dialog delivery, and a lesser lettering job would have crowded out the “acting”. Not so here. Great job, again, by Henrichon.
REAVER #8 packs as much character development punch as action in a brisk 21 pages. The artwork pops precisely when it needs to for maximum effect and the story sets up a desperate showdown with Stagger. This series is improving with each issue.
Author’s Note: Local Comic Shops (LCS) are going through a tough time right now with the pandemic outbreak of COVID-19. Comics fans of every flavor that care about his or her LCS should try to do what they can. So, here’s my part:
If you’re in Northern Delaware, South East Pennsylvania, or Southern New Jersey area, please take a moment to visit Captain Blue Hen Comics in Newark, DE. Say ‘hi,’ pick up a book, order a book (they’re on Comichub.com), and let them know you support them.
If you’re nowhere near that area, please find YOUR LCS using Comic Shop Locator and lend your support.
Thanks, and stay safe.