In Ether #2, scientific missionary Boone Dias has a lead on who killed this magical realm’s protector, but as in any well-done murder mystery, the plot only thickens. Is it good?
Ether #2 (Dark Horse Comics)
Hold on, Glum, Boone’ll be right back after grabbing a quick nosh in Venice. Then he’ll drop back in and you can boot his ass anywhere in the Ether. What’s with all that aggression, anyway? The Blaze’s death is personal for you, isn’t it? Well, we’re all in luck, as Dias has used his scientific smarts to suss out where the “magic” bullet came from, now we just have to find the guy and … oh.
Is It Good?
Much like when Judge Doom started dunking toons in dip, Ether #2 takes a darker turn for this Roger Rabbit-like tale of a straight-laced detective in a strange world. A lot of the fun, establishing work in the dialogue and art is gone now, and while it helped in the first issue, getting down to the nitty gritty was the right decision to move the narrative forward. Instead here the bad-assery of The Blaze is a little overstated, but that’s not totally unwelcome, as we learned very little about the Ether’s nigh-indestructible guardian in issue #1.
And it leads to some genuinely heart-wrenching moments of remembrance from the Ether’s gatekeeper, Glum. It’s an unexpected bit of characterization from writer Matt Kindt that makes the reader wonder if the simian sentry can be trusted to remain objective when this investigation gets really dire, as it inevitably will. Boone Dias, on the other hand, is still cool as a cucumber, finding rational explanations and invoking research like a boss. His hubris isn’t as bold as in the previous issue, but it still feels like the other magical shoe may drop at some point.
As enjoyable as David Rubín’s pencils and colors were in Ether #1, he employs them for greater utility here, using funky panel layouts as analogues of motion, and multiple close-up shots to track characters’ changing feelings. The different palettes to contrast the grim, real world from the slightly shinier Ether are stark and less “splashy,” hugging the lines of the figures tighter, reminding the reader that this is a sequential story and not a watercolor painting.
Ether #2 is a step up from an already well-done first issue, by all members of the creative team. With the characters established, the drama kicks into high gear, and as the otherworldly detective story unfolds, your heartstrings will be tugged. Kindt and Rubín both show impressive range, as if reaching across a portal from the bleak to the beautiful.