(Image Comics, 2014)
Written by Antony Johnston
Illustrated by Justin Greenwood
Colored by Shari Chankhamma
Lettered by Ed Brisson
A planet in crisis, politically and socially, a murder at the heart of the corruption…it’s all in Fuse #3 releasing this week from Image.
Antony Johnston (Wasteland, Umbral) takes his love of the crime comic and fuses it (oh boy, the puns are perhaps starting early here) with his love of science fiction, delivering an intense noir space opera.
To recap, Dietrich has just moved to the Fuse, a planet-like satellite that has the population of one of Earth’s big cities, and the problems to boot. Dietrich’s partner is the seasoned veteran Ristovych, the toughest of the tough, no crime scene too horrific, and known for her ability to alienate partners.
They are deep in a case to find out who is murdering “cablers” those indigent masses that have retreated to the interior ductwork, pipes and cables that let the city operate. Cablers are not only homeless but are seen as more than a little crazy, hermits who have retreated from society. So why bother when a couple are killed? As it turns out, one of the most recent victims bears more than a striking resemblance, and a whole lot of DNA, with the mayor of the Fuse, Rocky Swanson.
This truly reads like an episode Law and Order, and Johnston stays true to the pacing and source material. The book reads like an hour-long crime drama, with just enough reveals to keep you guessing. This story is a thread that you tug at as you read it, only to discover by the end that you’ve unraveled most of a sweater and have lost the original thread.
His take on the particularities of each of the detectives, Ristovych and Dietrich, is close enough to be familiar, but still a change. Dietrich is the obvious newbie, though he still has years under his belt and a knack for solving crimes. Ristovych on the other hand is almost androgynous in her character and design, which make her seem more machine than person, more job than personality. If you erased all of Jerry Orbach’s quips from the television series (and made him a woman) you’d have Ristovych. There are points when she shows a glimmer of personality, like when she refers to Dietrich as “Marlene”, but even that falls flat in the face of her inability to show a crack in the fortress, as it were. Klem Ristovych is the job, and the job is her.
The art in this is dark and pairs well with the crime aspect of the book. Justin Greenwood (Wasteland, Ghost Town) has an angular style that fits the industrial landscape, and you can tell by the pacing and framing of the pages that he has watched his share of Law and Order, and knows how to fit the story into that kind of visual framework.
Fuse is noir science fiction, akin to a mash-up of old EC books. Greenwood and Johnston continue to impress as well as intrigue, and keep us coming back after the month-long commercial break between issues.
Brad Gischia is a writer and artist living in the frozen Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is married and has three kids and a dog, who all put up with his incessant prattling about comic books.