Cemetery Beach #2
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Jason Howard
Review by Christoph Staffl
In the last issue of Cemetery Beach, the creators introduced us to Michael Blackburn and Grace Moody. Though coming from different backgrounds, our two protagonists might have similar goals. Mike, a scout from earth, is on this strange but familiar planet to investigate the chances of an invasion from earth. At least that’s what we are told. But a couple of things go wrong, and now he is mostly running away from things.
Being an outsider on this planet, Mike seeks help from a native. Grace, a murderer who happens to be a prisoner in the same facility as Mike, seems like a good choice. While they are spending their time running away from their captors, the president of this land learns of the existence of Mike. President Barrow is not happy about the visit from oldhome.
The second issue picks up the story where the first issue left off: President Barrow arguing with a guy who could be a military general or advisor. Meanwhile, Mike and Grace are continuing their escape, while destroying various vehicles and buildings along the way. Their storyline is one continuous chase, only interrupted by quieter moments when they find temporary hiding spots.
That means this issue, as the previous one, mostly consists of action-packed pages. A lot is going on on each page, but you never get lost. Thanks to big, wide panels on each page, they give us a sense of place and where the characters are headed. Though the action might be the most prominent part of the story, the creators also give us some intimate moments.
Another great thing they do is give us reaction shots. After something has happened, we just watch one or both of our protagonists react, experiencing the moment and dealing with it, before moving on to an appropriate counteraction. These are the moments where we learn the most about our characters.
Since the first panel of the first issue, the creators have given us one continuous story. Even the style of the issues themselves matches the style of the world we are presented with. Things like these enhance the immersive effect and make it more believable. But there is one downside to telling a story that way: we get no background information. We have to figure it all out by ourselves. At the same time, we don’t get heavy exposition dialogues. It’s a double-edged sword, but so far it works.
I hope we get a few more questions answered as the story continues. Why does every engine have to be destroyed after arriving on this world? What is our protagonist’s goal? Is it really just a scouting mission or is there more to that? Why is oldhome sending just him and not at least two? Did he choose Grace by coincidence or was she someone he saw before? Why are there circular walls built throughout the city, like it is an homage to the different levels of hell we find in some mythologies? Hopefully each issue adds another piece to the puzzle, and in the end, it all makes sense.
The Verdict: Buy it.
Cemetery Beach presents us with an exciting world, and I have a lot of questions I still want answers to. Being dropped in a story like this without exposition adds to an engaging experience. The designs of the characters themselves are unique and match their personality traits, which is always fun. The only thing I missed in this second issue, was a beautiful double-page spread of the world. But other than that, I am hooked.