When a first issue grabs you by the throat you listen. You obey and come back for more with issue #2. Is it good?
Cryptocracy #2 (Dark Horse Comics)
So what’s this book about? The official Dark Horse summary reads:
The Nine Families have ruled civilization from the shadows for time beyond memory. But now, for the first time, they are being hunted. Family leaders begrudgingly forge an alliance to discover the hunter’s identity, but in so doing only place themselves in greater danger.
Why does this book matter?
Van Jensen and Pete Woods positively astounded with their first issue, delivering a conspiracy theorist’s worst nightmare. The characters were well written, a complex system was put into place, and an on the ground hero was introduced who many conspiracy theorists could relate to. On top of all that a major wild card was introduced that could send the entire structure so carefully detailed in the first issue crashing down.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
So no awkwardness with the old nude guy?
Jensen writes another good issue here detailing past exploits of the Nine Families that ended up taking millions of lives. The issue opens on Hawaii as the main character’s elder prepares him to view the attack on Pearl Harbor, apparently all orchestrated by the Nine Families. It’s a reminder that the main characters are the bad guys so that when hell starts to break loose we feel the right emotions (elation) for their demise. Jensen peels back a new layer on the Nine Families’ highest circle, the assassin and his weapons, as well as progresses the story of the conspiracy theorist. This adds up to a good amount of progress and some new layers to the Nine Families too. In only the second issue, Jensen has made this hierarchy all the more interesting and I can’t wait to see how many more secrets are revealed as the story unfolds.
The art by Woods continues to have a nice cartoony feel like one you might see in an anime. The backgrounds and even some of the vehicles are all rendered via computer which is quite a unique element to this series. It doesn’t always work–especially when, say, a candlestick looks like it belongs in World of Warcraft or the spines of books look nearly photographic with such cartoony looking characters in front of them–but it’s more or less invisible since we’re focused on the characters.
I dig how Woods drew this bird.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Okay, but when it doesn’t work it really doesn’t work! In one splash page we see a dungeon like room with a staircase and lights that all look like they belong in Wolfenstein and not the latest version. The stairs remind me of 1999 level computer graphics and that somehow dates the imagery. Some of the textures look off too and ultimately they don’t match the look of the characters at all.
This issue lacks the character work of the first issue and by the end you won’t feel like you know the protagonist any better. He does show some courage, but he’s more of an observer to the events of the issue.
Is It Good?
Another good issue that peels back a few layers that drive this conspiracy theory series. The world is compelling and you’ll be driven even more to know all of its secrets.