The Fuse #3 [Advance Review]
The Fuse #3 (Image): This issue continues "The Russia Shift" arc, as Dietrich and Ristovych investigate what is ostensibly just a dead cabler. Antony Johnston and Justin Greenwood depict the police procedural as a sometimes talky, slow-burn process that feels a lot like putting together an unknown jigsaw puzzle. The sparse leads are the puzzle pieces, one leads to another leads to another, some key and some peripheral, and if you keep chasing them and snap down enough, eventually you start to see an image forming. Their investigation takes them to the heart of the Mayor’s Office, with familial intrigue, past lies, and secrets being revealed. If you pay really close attention to the very first scene, and then square that with the final sequences in the book, it also becomes clear that some people know more secrets than they’re really letting on. I like how Johnston and Greenwood use the plain black and white location headers, which remind me of the edits in something like Law & Order (one of many shows with confessed influences on The Fuse) or Christopher Priest’s old Marvel Knights Black Panther series that used them to great effect, if you’re more comfortable with a comic book reference. If I have any criticism of this issue, and maybe the series as a whole so far, it’s that the very nature of the book makes it a bunch of talking heads until the evidence reaches a crescendo and something actionable pops off, so it’s up to Johnston to keep the journey of the dialogue intriguing, and Greenwood to hold our attention visually. He does this to some extent with excellent mastery of body language, evident in all the reaction shots or cops with folded arms emphasizing closed posture. Those are the subtleties that I enjoy, but I do fear some readers may grow impatient with all of the talk, though perhaps the readers that just want empty action aren't the ones reading a book like The Fuse in the first place(?). Anyway, Shari Chankhamma’s lighting also helps break things up tremendously from scene to scene, where light-sourcing and color palettes differ in the coroner’s office, dingy apartments, or the open streets of Midway City. As all of the leads start to converge, Johnston is also careful to continue world-building along the way. Sometimes there are significant efforts, like a flashback to the race riots and all the clues to the “origins” of Klem and Ralph, while other times they’re small little throwaway bits that suggest characterization. My mind is always drawn to things like another officer named “Chang,” which hints at interplay with other ethnicities, the mention of “spring rolls” having an air of authenticity to it because it's so specific, Yuri’s likely political connections, or the great deadpan line “Holy shit, that a real gun?” which I hope will be used as a recurring bit of humor. Grade A.