The first two issues of Clankillers from Aftershock Comics delivered in different ways. Clankillers #1 introduced readers to its deep characters and rich lore while also having a heavy focus on action. The whole issue was chaotic without ever letting its cast get lost. Issue #2 upped the ante and went at a faster pace. This was done at the cost of the clever development of the young princess Finola and her friend Cillian seen in the previous issue, however. The book was still good but a step down from its well written debut.
The third issue of Clankillers sees yet another change of pace. The story moves slower than either of the preceding installments. This is a return to form as the writing of Sean Lewis once again takes center stage. What this also means is a deep exploration of the characters and their motivations. This is a welcome change since the last issue made Finola and Cillian out to be petulant children instead of young adults who are lacking in life experience.
Finola is once again seen as a growing woman who fondly remembers the halcyon days of her childhood. She is not the spoiled daughter of a king who wants things to be how they were. Her opening monologue paints a clear picture of the type of person she is while also explaining how King Padraig became Padraig the Gruesome. In space of three pages, Clankillers gives more insight into Finola than the entire second issue.
This was much needed since the last issue had almost succeeded in making Finola out to be a villain. Padraig’s callous beating of Finola’s sister Regan almost seemed like it was written to let the reader know he was a bad person and Finola should be cheered. Lewis had done a great job in the first issue of creating characters with questionable motivations. The second issue almost undid it all.
The third issue also delves further into the story of Finola’s two sisters, Regan and Una. One of the brighter spots of the previous issue was how it hinted Finola was not the only daughter who questioned their father’s choices. Readers also learn that Padraig’s control of Ireland is much more tenuous than it looks and there may be many political machinations at work.
The most interesting development in Clankillers may be Padraig as the possible main character of the story. What started off as one daughter’s quest to avenge her family and help her father in her own seemingly warped way has become an examination of one man’s hold on reality. The entire run of the series has done a great job of developing the mad king and giving glimpses into the complexities of his mind. In each of the first two issues there have been moments of extreme madness and times when Padraig seemed to be questioning his own warped decisions.
The opening of the latest issue shows a different side of Daddy Paddy before the more gruesome side that has been seen so often. Padraig seems especially torn this issue, alternating between tears and horrible acts of violence and is the most interesting character by far.
Clankillers may move at a slower pace, but that does not mean it is short on action. There is an action sequence early in the book that is one of the better drawn battles in the book. The book also has continues its excellent use of dark humor. Antonio Fuso’s art is at its best and the cover done with Stefano Simeone is gorgeous.
Clankillers is a story that is carried by its deep characters. The action is fast paced and fun, but it is the complex cast that differentiates it from any other sword and board tale.