Preview: ‘Brink Book 4’ – Hate Box, Love Brink – Abnett And Culbard’s Sci-Fi Procedural Just Keeps Getting Better

by Richard Bruton

With the fourth collection of Dan Abnett and INJ Culbard‘s masterful sci-fi procedural series, Brink, we’re going deeper than ever into the madness besetting the remains of humanity, on-board the cramped, overcrowded deep-space Habitats – where HSD cop Bridget Kurtis is in way, way too deep…

The entire planet of Mercury has vanished and a video clip is implicated in what looks like a massacre… when on the brink of existence, truth may be stranger than fiction.

I’ve been going on and on about how good Brink is for a hell of a long time – right back since it first appeared in 2016 in fact. And if the series keeps going the way it’s gone in the first four chapters, I’m not going to be shutting up about it anytime soon.

In fact, until the appearance of the OUT, another Dan Abnett written strip (with beautiful art from Mark Harrison), I would have put Brink down as perhaps my favourite 2000 AD strip in the last 10 years, probably way longer. It’s just so damn good.

To give you something of an idea, this was a rather perfect add in a recent 2000 AD…

What makes Brink work so well is how careful and calculated it all is, how Abnett and Culbard work so perfectly together to slowly tease out the storyline, everything so suspenseful, so taut, the atmosphere getting increasingly charged as the investigation moves slowly on, right up until the point where things explode, powder keg-like.

And as hard as Abnett works on Brink to give it that sense of incredible tension, Culbard’s artwork is still doing the heavy lifting, his gorgeous lines and rich colours perfectly suited to whatever style he’s working in, whatever palette, whatever tone or mood, every panel, every page is just full of moments of sheer nuanced brilliance, as he puts the cast through their paces, directing every move, every facial expression, every subtle moment of body language.

And then you get the other end of the scale, when he gets to go big and bold and, damn, so beautiful. I mean, take a look at this…

In the past, I’ve compared Brink with the best of procedural TV – “think The Wire with intense sci-fi, throw in some David Lynch and John Carpenter, and you’re getting somewhere near it. Except in Brink, the special effects budget is as vast as Culbard and Abnett’s considerable imaginations.” Yeah, that’s what I said. I stand by that and raise you more madness and craziness than Lynch could ever come up with, such is the wonder of the comics medium.

As before, the set-up remains the same – it’s the late 21st Century, after humanity has left the poisoned Earth and is now holed up in cramped, claustrophobic, overcrowded Habitats, full of tensions, simmering madness, and violence.

And it’s the (often futile) job of the Habitat Security Division to keep a lid on the situation. In Brink, we’re with HSD cop Bridget Kurtis as she’s investigated the strange and dangerous world of the mysterious sects springing up across the Habs, seen the immense psychological damage of Hab life expressed in bizarre ideas and explosive violence, and, in the last volume, she infiltrated the master sect operating at the highest levels of hab high society.

In Brink Book 4 – well, things get even worse. Kurtis is back on her home Hab, newly installed as head of Major Cases. There’s more from the cult threat, there’s a viral clip circulating that appears to be sending its viewers insane, and that’s to say nothing of the mystery surrounding just what happened to Mercury.

And then there’s the  hateboxes.

Oh yeah, the damn hateboxes.

It is, as before, wonderful comics. But then again, you should surely know that already?

Brink Book 4 – written by Dan Abnett, art by INJ Culbard, letters by Simon Bowland. 

Originally serialised in 2000 AD Prog 2150-2169

Published by 2000 AD / Rebellion on 23 November.

Okay then, here’s the first 10 pages of Brink Book 4, 10 pages that introduce the cast, set the scene, and give you a real sense of how damn brilliant Brink really is… one of the best things in 2000 AD for many a year, Dan Abnett and INJ Culbard doing incredible things with comics….

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