It’s a better issue. There’s character work, not development because it’s flashback, but now MacGregor is a white gay man FBI agent who doesn’t understand he works with a bunch of bigots and, in flashback, is worried about the 2016 election. In the present, election’s already happened. We find out the white lady partner, Shaw, doesn’t vote, knows white guys are bigots and doesn’t complain about anything. They have these conversations while investigating missing children cases, which are taking place around the Southwest, but centered in L.A.
The investigation figures into the present day, starting with MacGregor and Shaw waking up in a warehouse without any pulses. They then discover one of their fellow agents is similarly without a pulse but has had a different experience—and reaction—than they’ve had. The entire present action takes place in the warehouse, lights out, mysterious figures and noises down the aisles, the partners finding themselves without pulses, then finding their colleague. At the end of the issue, there are some crossovers between the two storylines, which writer Garth Ennis toggles between.
As a comic, manipulative content concerns aside, it’s a technical success. Ennis and artist Goran Sudžuka do a good job with it. The flashbacks are visually without dread, but there’s foreboding on a couple fronts. First, the looming election, second, the criminal investigation. Even without knowing it might figure into the present, the investigation in the past is slightly uncanny. It’s not supernatural, but it’s discomforting as the agents expound on it, and the incongruities stick out. Again, good writing from Ennis. Like, he does the work to get the right effect.
To what end? We’ll have to wait until next time because Ennis finishes the issue ends with a revelation cliffhanger, one the agents know about, but the reader doesn’t. Yet, presumably.
I’d be really impressed if Ennis doesn’t address it.
While I’m still not enthusiastic about A Walk Through Hell, it does appear Ennis knows how to do what he’s doing. And Sudžuka’s art is excellent. Wish he was doing a different book—heck, wish he and Ennis were doing a better book together. The plotting with the reveals is a little off; the series runs twelve, and I’m guessing I’ll be griping it didn’t just run eight by the finale. This issue is stretched out to delay the plot from fully starting, which means there will be at least three issues before Ennis establishes the ground situation. Trade-write much?
But whatever. It’s an improvement I wasn’t expecting.