While I positively loved “Existence 2.0” and was looking forward to the sequel series, “Existence 3.0,” the first issue of the new book already succumbs to the ‘sequel problem’ of not matching the first. Too much time is spent establishing what has happened since the first series without getting into the main thrust of this one. When the issue ends, it seems like it has ended mid-sentence, as if Nick Spencer and Ron Salas had more they wanted to say in this first issue, but simply ran out of space.
It is difficult to discuss this issue without spoiling the end of “Existence 2.0,” so my apologies for the spoilers as this issue picks up immediately where the last one left off and does a very good job of dovetailing that exposition with what’s happening now, five years later. Jenny, the eight-year-old daughter of Sly, who invented the technology to transfer consciousness to the body of another, wakes up in the body of Marina, an assassin after her father used to the technology to save her from dying. One effect of the transfer is a retention of muscle memory and ability, so Jenny suddenly finds herself able to kill like Marina and has been training ever since, on the run with her mother and Marina’s brother, Marko.
The opening of the issue is very strong as it juxtaposes Jenny’s waking up as Marina then, and an attack on the people responsible for her kidnapping and father’s death now. The coloring sets the two time periods apart, and Salas’s art is exquisite as moving between them, playing off each time period to further both. You can see for yourself in the preview pages that he does an excellent job of building up the action in each and delivering the pay-off in each together. It’s an incredibly strong opening and is executed almost flawlessly by all involved.
However, after that opening, the issue drags as we receive more exposition from five years ago and a short, melodramatic scene now between the trio before cutting to the men hunting them in a scene that feels truncated and not at all the cliffhanger, ‘you must read the next issue’ moment that a book like this demands. It seems like this issue needed more time to build to a truly captivating ‘to be continued’ and that didn’t happen, sadly.
With the strong immediate hook of the first series, “Existence 3.0” #1 gets off to a slow, less engaging start. Ron Salas’s art is still very fluid in conveying action, and he does a fantastic job with the opening, but after the two-page spread that completes the sequence, the issue sinks. Hopefully, things pick up since the concept is good and these creators delivered last time. It would be a shame for this to turn out to be the bad sequel that shouldn’t have been made.