Leading The President’s Forces On A Merry Old Chase In Cemetery Beach #4

by Brendan M. Allen

Force recon expert Mike Blackburn has promised to get dissident Grace Moody out of a secret, private space colony and back to Earth to reveal what happened here a century ago. The oldest people in the colony are about to show they can still kill.

So far in Cemetery Beach, we’ve seen Mike Blackburn escape an interrogation room, pick up a spunky local guide, and fight his way through increasingly bizarre and treacherous concentric rings of this secessionist colony he’s found himself stuck in the middle of. On a mission from “oldworld” to suss out the fate of a century old experiment on a Goldilocks planet, he’s potentially bitten off more than he, or anyone else, could possible chew.
Cemetery Beach #4 picks up as Mike and Grace have just made it past Second Stage, and are about to enter Drum. Drum, where the crazed populace is being starved out by their deranged president, but is just loyal enough to try to regain favor by delivering Mike’s head to the presidential palace.

Warren Ellis hasn’t given us a second to catch our breath in this middle issue of a seven book mini. The action that started way back in chapter one hasn’t let up at all. Ellis has given some really interesting little nuggets about each of the sublevels of the colony, but with less than an issue dedicated to each level, the action doesn’t stay in one place long enough to really explore the insanity. There’s also a really interesting dynamic growing between our protagonists, but again, with the breakneck pace, it’s hard to tell what’s organic, and what falls into “pain as social glue.”
With the relative lack of dialogue, chapter four again lays most of the storytelling at the feet of Jason Howard. The action is insane, but easy to follow, and reasonably advances the plot. There are also quite a few little visual gags. You know how religious icons tend to take on characteristics from the societies that adopt them? Like when Jesus crossed over into Europe and shed a few hundred levels of melanin? Well, Space Jesus sports a helmeted space suit.

I still don’t have a really clear read on this one. I mean, it’s fun to read. There’s a lot of really cool stuff to look at. Steampunky tech, explosions, and grotesque mutants. It’s just that we keep getting these awesome little hints at a much richer story that could take place in this world, and then, before we get a chance to look around, we’re on to the next firefight. Seems like there’s an awful lot of meat left on the bone.

Cemetery Beach #4, Image Comics, released 12 December 2018. Written by Warren Ellis, art by Jason Howard, letters by Fonografiks.

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