Are we all ready for our second helping of Shrapnel? As we jump back into things, we find that our heroine, Sam, and her pals are in the middle of an all-out war against the Alliance. The violence gets punched up a couple of notches in this issue, so be prepared for blood.
It finally comes to light that Sam, whose real name is Vijaya Narayan, was once a Captain in the United Space Marine Corps (although we all knew that was going to pop up sooner or later for everyone else to lament over). Now Sam not only has to hide from her past, she’s trying to dodge the criticism of her new peers because of her history in the Marines. Sam is hastily tossed into a position of command, one she didn’t really want and is trying to get away from. Unfortunately for her, she does her job too well and ends up saving the day. In doing so, she has caught the attention of the Alliance military due to a tactic she used. Now the Alliance knows that the army on Venus can and may be willing to fight to the end.
The only thing that bothers me in this issue is Sam just jumping into the fight, when she was so dead set against it. Why would she have run for so long only to just give up and get back into the fight? That wasn’t explained. I know it had to come to this – Sam wouldn’t be the hero if she just kept running, and there would be much of a story either, but a motive would have been nice instead of just skipping over it. Other than that little objection, I still love this comic. The over-all depth and intelligence of it could be over-whelming (I say “could be” only because the remaining issues have yet to be released), but it seems to be on track for being a great set of books. The spacing of the story is fantastic. Not too much is given away in the issue, but just enough is revealed to keep you coming back to find out what happens next. It’s a great hook; pity it will only be five issues long. Then again it would be a shame to see this series run itself into the ground when it’s going so good – best to keep it short and sweet. When it really comes down to it (and it needs to be put into the simplest terms), Shrapnel is kick ass. There are very few comics I put down after reading and think “damn that was good.” This is certainly one of those comics.
The art is the backbone of Shrapnel. You can’t get tired of how nightmarish the battle scenes are. It’s like a sci-fi dreamscape. Honestly, Halo on its best day couldn’t look this good. Whereas the art is the foundation of the book, the coloring is the foundation for the art. Leos Ng is a master of the craft, and deserves a standing round of applause for helping this war comic really look and feel like a war comic. You won’t find any bright and cheery colors here, unless it’s blood red.
War is hell, and Shrapnel does its best to show us what that hell would look like if it were happening years into the future. Definitely look for this one on the shelf. It’s worth it, and double worth it if you can get an issue with the Barbarella -esque cover A. You’ll know it when you see it.
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