Eric Heisserer introduces a handful of new characters as Spry continues on his mission to rescue his parents from the clutches of Cal Victus and his Caliphate. Is it good?
Shaper #2 (Dark Horse Comics)
The opening to Shaper #2 isn’t as creative as the first issue, but it still draws from the same source. Eric Heisserer uses the idea of detailing a strategy within the card game to defeat the Shapers, while also hinting at the struggles to come for Spry and his family. It fills you with foreboding and concern for Spry. You just know something terrible is going to happen.
Unlike the opening issue, Heisserer jumps between different storylines, effectively switching between Spry, Cal Victus, and newcomer Kaylen. He is able to successfully build each storyline to a climax and then transition to do the same with the next story. This makes for excellent pacing. Each storyline builds out the characters further while also effectively introducing the new ones. The dialogue is fun and enjoyable. It captures the characters’ emotions whether anger, fear, or shock. He even interjects some baby daddy humor when Spry enters a bar announcing “I’m looking for somebody.” Not to mention, he is self-aware about the card game and makes comments referencing other well-known superhero comics.
The story doesn’t remind me of a superhero comic; it reminds me more of Star Wars; not because it is in space, but because of the characters and their fight against an evil empire. Cal Victus conjures up Grand Moff Tarkin, a ruthless man who will employ any means possible to obtain his goals. Cal Victus is a man made of the same cloth. Spry teams up with a ragtag group of heroes tasked with rescuing a captured female. There are even some artistic hints with control panels suggesting the Star Wars influence.
Speaking of artwork, there was a change in the artist from the first issue. Ace Continuado and Adelso Corona replaced Felipe Massafera. The change is definitive. Continuado and Corona do not use the heavy shadowing and grainy feel Massafera brought to the table. The grainy shadowing gave the first book a unique look. It set itself apart from other books on the shelf. Continuado and Corona are unable to replicate this and instead opt for a cleaner look. As previously mentioned, there appear to be Star Wars-influenced Easter eggs. They make some mistakes with continuity during a fight sequence. A group of bounty hunters is engaged in a gunfight and their positions are rearranged from panel to panel. One of the hunters was on the left side of the first panel with his compatriots to his right, but in the consequent panel he ends up on the right side of the panel with his compatriots to his left. There was some stirring moments where the artwork told the story. I particularly enjoyed a sequence where Rand picks up a memento Spry had been carrying. The artwork allows your imagination to run wild as history flashes before Rand’s eyes. Overall, the artwork reminds me of Michael Lark’s work on Lazarus.
Is It Good?
Shaper #2 continues the strong start from the first issue by expanding the number of actors and providing excellent characterization. Eric Heisserer uses a multi-storyline narrative style to great effect, building up your interest in the characters and their struggles and quickly transitioning to do the same for another character once the story reached a climactic peak. The art was a bit of a downgrade from Felipe Massafera. It lacked the unique style he brought to the first book. However, the action scenes were engaging and there appears to be a definite Star Wars influence. This is shaping up to be a top pull.