If ever there was a comic that will surely split opinions, it’s “Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape” with its trippy atmosphere, stream of conscious storytelling, and utter lack of explanation for anything that happens. It’s the sort of book where one person will rhyme off a bunch of reasons why it’s the best comic they read that week and someone else will respond with the same list as reason why it’s awful.
“Escape” expects a lot from readers with Nemesis still in Electric City with no knowledge of why he’s there. He doesn’t know where Electric City is, how long he’s been there, or what’s going on. Last issue, he encountered Cameron Chase and some others he knows and, in this issue, he wakes up to find Amanda Waller and Jack Flag in his room. But, they offer no help, claiming to be prisoners of the Global Peace Agency, whose agenda is unknown.
This is a comic book of questions with few answers. Yet.
It’s remarkable that DC is publishing a book like this, one so obtuse and difficult, one that demands re-readings, one that probably won’t truly make sense until the final issue — and, even then, I’d be surprised if every question is answered. But, none of that hurts this book as Ivan Brandon and Marco Rudy float through this issue like the drugged inhabitants of Electric City, focusing on the moments of lucidity before the next shift comes. An extended sequence in the middle of the issue featuring an injured Checkmate Pawn, an unseen guardian, and Captain Nazi is the easiest to follow with some clear action and layouts involving wide panels stack atop one another.
But, even that sequence works to set itself apart from other books with the layouts featuring panels that aren’t the width of the page and aren’t always stacked evenly. In the gutters is a chessboard pattern with pieces and character logos matching the action. Rudy breaks from the layout, as well, in key moments, while Brandon provides cryptic dialogue and vague motivations. It all seems familiar and normal until you actually take a look at what’s going on.
That said, Rudy’s art is inconsistent at times with some figures being detailed and beautiful, while others are hastily drawn. Amanda Waller gets the worst of this treatment with a face that Rudy never quite gets right (and it doesn’t appear like that’s done on purpose). However, the layout experiments he does are remarkable, especially the final two pages with panels taking place inside a chess pawn.
“Escape” #2 is a difficult to sum up since so much of what makes it great is in how its executed, not what actually happens. What happens is unclear and part of the ongoing mystery, but the manner in which Ivan Brandon and Marco Rudy tell it is marvelous and far different what you normally find in superhero comics. It’s not for everyone, but good on DC for trying something new and different.