Written by Rafael Albuquerque and Mike Johnson
Art by Rafael Albuquerque
Publish by Dark Horse Comics
Every so often, a story comes along that really captures the imagination and creates a fascination world ripe for exploration, and Ei8ht is just that type of book. With the second issue, Rafael Albuquerque and Mike Johnson continue to explore the world of the Meld – a sort of “lost land” where people, things and creatures seem to magically appear from other times and places creating a wonderfully intricate world where the exotic is commonplace.
While the first issue helped set up the premise of the book, Ei8ht #2 serves to give us a closer look at some of the key characters. Particularly interesting are the exploration of the Tyrant, ruler of the Meld, and his right hand man, the Spear. Having recovered our protagonist Joshua’s ship, the Tyrant plans to further expand his power in the Meld, and use the technology of the ship to escape this mysterious world and attempt to conquer all of time and space – you know, typical tyrant stuff. While the Tyrant is certainly an interesting character, I’m really interested to see what the Spear’s motives are in his unwavering support for his king. In this issue we learn that the Spear is also not of this world so surely he is looking to find a way back home just like Joshua and Dr. Hamm’s crew may be and I look forward to seeing how this aspect of the story plays out. We also get a glimpse of how the world of the Meld became such a harsh place, courtesy of the Scourge, some kind of biological or mechanical virus brought on after the first appearance of the Spear to this world which ravaged not just the population but also the environment itself.
Upon my first reading of this issue, Rick Remender’s Low published by Image immediately came to mind. The stories themselves do share some common elements, but it is the level of world building by the creative team and the amalgamation of sci-fi, fantasy, and mythology elements that makes me draw some similarities. Given the quality of the aforementioned book, this is obviously a complement to what Albuquerque and Johnson have accomplished here. The revelation at the end of this issue is sure to deepen the mystery as to the real connections between Joshua’s mission, and the existence of the Meld itself.
Huge compliments go out to Albuquerque for the art in this book which is just stunning. Particularly important to remember as you’re reading is that while color work can often make or break the visuals of a book, they actually mean something here, and help differentiate different moments in time which is something not often done in comics.
If you’re a fan of books with intricate and expansive world building, there really isn’t much out now which comes close to what Ei8ht accomplishes and this second issue is a step in the right direction. Ei8ht #2 is a worthy addition to any pull list.