Writer & artist Livio Ramondelli returns with the second issue of his long-awaited sequel-series in The Kill Lock: The Artisan Wraith #2. With letters by Shawn Lee, this outstanding chapter is the absolutely insane return we’ve all been waiting for. With a tense, explosive story and ever-captivating visuals, this may very well be my favorite single comic of the year thus far.
“The Resolve Class: The unique class composed of bots from different backgrounds with one shared feature-a specialty in problem-solving. (Or assassination, as some prefer to call it.) And it’s up to the Resolve, the Lurk, and a small team to solve the greatest problem in the galaxy-the Artisan Wraith, an unbeatable mind in an unbreakable body, currently serving as ruler of a planet of criminals. What could go wrong?”
Writing & Plot
Livio Ramondelli reminds us with every issue just how great a storyteller he is, and his work here in The Kill Lock: The Artisan Wraith #2 is no different. We finally get to see the cast of the original Kill Lock, now presented in their titular, imposing form. The comic’s opening has an almost Suicide Squad feel to it, with the hunters from the first issue building a team to bring down the terrifyingly powerful Artisan Wraith. This builds up to an insane fight sequence and some compelling emotional storytelling near the end. Ramondelli paces this comic perfectly, with every moment feeling earned and impactful.
There’s always a slight feeling of apprehension when a comic artist also decides to write their own story. Not every artist can handle dialogue and plot the way they can handle penciling and blocking. Ramondelli though, much like Jeff Lemire or Daniel Warren Johnson, is every bit a writer as he is an artist – which is saying quite a lot. Every important character has traits and small arcs that make them stand out. The dialogue is naturalistic and sharp. Every conversation has a form of weight that makes them each memorable for different reasons. Ramondelli’s plot, structure, and dialogue sensibilities are absolutely top-notch, making this chapter a tense and exciting joy to read.
Most of what makes Livio Ramondelli’s work so effective in The Kill Lock: The Artisan Wraith #2 is how he utilizes his brand of visual storytelling. His stark depictions of these sentient machines in this used future sci-fi environment are striking and stunning. Breathtaking vistas and views of the galaxy are met by the rusty insides of worn ships or the stone bulwarks of ancient, abandoned moon bases. These gorgeous and haunting depictions are equaled by Ramondelli’s visual character work. I mention this in every review I’ve written for The Kill Lock and don’t think I’ll ever stop. Ramondelli’s ability to design and draw these robots with blank, unmoving faces and imbue them which such personality and emotion will forever be one of the most incredible feats of comic storytelling I’ve come across. The kinetic power and explosive force of the big fight sequence in this issue will make for no doubt one of the most memorable action scenes in comics for some time.
Much of what makes this work likely has to do with how he frames each character within the panel. He manages to layout pages and direct them in a manner that perfectly encloses and captures the tone for each scene perfectly. It’s the kind of approach that’s so effective because it disappears into the story since the reader is so invested. The lettering from Shawn Lee is consistently effective in its delivery of the reading experience. The small changes he makes in the word balloons based on who’s talking is a clever enough effect, but the real treat as always is his royal/medieval-esque font for The Wraith. Visually, this comic is as much a marvel as all the others, punctuated by an incredible action sequence and thoughtful character moments.
The Kill Lock: The Artisan Wraith #2 is a stunning and explosive 2nd chapter to this sequel series. Livio Ramondelli’s storytelling ability both in terms of writing and visual direction is truly outstanding. His perfectly-paced plot, memorable characters, and stunning art style make this potentially the most powerful issue of the whole Kill Lock saga thus far. Be sure to grab this comic when it hits shelves on April 13th!