Brandon Graham’s “Prophet” revamp turned out to be one of the most inventive comic re-imaginings in years, something that fans of “King City” and “Multiple Warheads” probably could have told us well in advance. Now, Graham is unleashing a group of new comics into the market, many of them under the “8house” banner. “8house: Arclight” #2 follows up on the strong debut of the first issue as Graham and Marian Churchland plunge us further into a world of body-swapping, blood runes and magic being scratched into the sky.
In terms of the writing, the biggest draw for “8house: Arclight” #2 is how well Graham presents the overall world of “8house.” His world-building skills are impressive in no small part because of how instantly cohesive they feel. Little descriptive passives, like the travel palace that was “grown from the bones of his elders and expanding with every generation” is instantly evocative. It not only conjures up a whole host of ideas, but it feels instantly unique and different from what you’d normally see in a fantasy comic. From the sand navigators using drops of blood to steer the palace to death priests using their ragged fingers to scratch strange symbols that hang in the air, every little peek into “8house” feels strange and compelling.
Churchland’s art does a lot to push “8house: Arclight” #2 further into your head. Her art has a painterly look to it, with inks and colors hard to separate one from another. The look of the Lady’s body with its strange branch-like face is intriguing and odd to look at, and the androgynous nature of Sir Arclight sells the gender-fluid nature of the character without ever having to point-blank state that fact to the readers. The backgrounds are beautiful too, with bone staircases and stalactites within the travel palace that gently wind and arc their way around the page. When we get to the battle between Arclight and the death priest, the strange shapes hanging in front of them work in part because of their odd compositions: intriguingly familiar and yet not quite.
“8house: Arclight” #2 continues to intrigue, even as I find it slightly frustrating to know that the remaining two chapters of “Arclight” won’t be for a while, as the other “8house” stories step up to their time at bat. Graham and Churchland have created a gorgeous world, and I’m dying to see what happens next. Fortunately, if the other “8house” books are as fun, it’ll be an enjoyable time to see what else is in store. “8house: Arclight” makes fantasy truly fantastical again.