by Drew Baumgartner
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Towards the end of this issue, Jackie King dismisses the simultaneity of the attack on Hightower and IO’s own attack on Skywatch as “coincidental.” She’s not wrong, exactly — not only was the Hightower attack not retaliatory, it wasn’t even perpetrated by Skywatch — but she’s not quite right, either. In a series so fixated on cause and effect, there are no coincidences; these attacks may be separate bowling pins, but they were set in motion by the same ball. It’s a hell of an idea for us to get our heads around — especially when one of the most cunning characters makes clear she hasn’t quite internalized it yet — but it’s an attitude that Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt have woven into every panel of this series, creating a kind of fractal that keeps pointing to cause and effect.
The clearest microcosm of this effect is the Wild CAT’s unexpected gunfight in the Hightower facility. Davis-Hunt’s action sequences are as thrilling and clear as ever, but what I want to draw our attention to here is how linear they are — even though we’re cutting between three different characters, time is marching ever forward.
I’m particularly enamored of John Colt’s little story here. He elbows one goon with his left elbow in the first panel, transitions that action into a drawback to reach for the next goon’s gun in the second, smashes that gun into said goon’s face in the third, and finishes his 180° turn to shoot the third goon in the fourth. It’s so straightforward, it’s almost diagrammatic, except for the fact that Davis-Hunt keeps moving the camera, allowing us to so how Kenesha’s actions taking down her last goon fit into all of this. There are no coincidences here, though two reactions to the same impetus may happen simultaneously.
Of course, this aesthetic doesn’t just exist on that micro, moment-to-moment scale. Indeed, the very first page of this issue sets in motion an effect that we only see on the last page. Looking through an old file on something called Thunderbook, Jackie discovers what she thinks is an old, impotent incendiary device, dismissing its existence as the paranoia of “crazy old coot” John Lynch. Only, it’s not so much an incendiary device as it is some kind of sensor that tells Lynch that the file has been “discovered,” which prompts what Lynch calls a road trip. We can’t anticipate what his reaction will ultimately be, but there’s no doubt that it is a reaction, driven inexorably by the causes we’ve already seen.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?