Though numbering suggests this is the conclusion, “Brass Sun” #6 (of 6) doesn’t read like a wrap-up. With questions to be answered, actions to be taken and problems left to solve, it feels more like the second-act build-up in a larger story. I.N.J. Culbard’s art is still whimsical and flexible, and Ian Edginton still scripts an enjoyable read, but I didn’t take much satisfaction in the ending. Luckily, the last page promised that “Brass Sun will return soon,” because this issue mostly just left me wanting more.
“Brass Sun” straddles sci-fi and fantasy genres, and Culbard’s art rides the same middle line. From the delicate winter world of issue #1, to the mechanical wonders of the Orrery, to the interstellar adventure here in issue #6, his sprightly linework is a match for any scene that Edginton can cook up. This isn’t to say that “Brass Sun” lacks its own aesthetic. It’s simply nimble enough to incorporate all the different pieces of its world. Its strength has always been creatively plucking what it wants from other genre works and combining them in unique ways, rather than raw inventiveness.
In part, Culbard achieves this diversity of look and feel with his excellent use of color. When drawing the monstrous Sabrefin, he uses a fantastical pallete that’s part “Rainbow Fish”, part Electric Ladyland. When the crew is in the woods, everything is lit in a dusk blue, and when the ship is in combat, the entire panel is in reds and angry indigos. This allows him to keep a consistency of style while still letting the book’s settings feel different from one another.
There is only one side effect to these extreme palettes, and it’s that the characters’ faces — usually so distinct — become more difficult to distinguish. The two men have the same haircuts, and so do Captain Ariel and Wren. There were a few conversations where I had to look very closely to figure out which pair was talking.
As far as Edginton’s script is concerned, the story does jump a fair amount. In particular, there is an excess of convenient off-panel action. While I understand that Edginton is pressed for time, and that many of these actions aren’t dramatically engaging enough to spend panel space on, the actions still felt contrived in their speed. It also resulted in an excess of exposition that made the issue’s answers feel less satisfying.
It’s a shame, because the character interactions are otherwise winning. Edginton’s characters are believably measured. Their dialogue is balanced between glibness and sincerity, and their motivations are balanced between gallantly world-saving and simply surviving. It’s easy to root for them, because they seem so much smaller than the problems they face, but so willing to face them anyways.
While this isn’t the conclusion I wanted for “Brass Sun,” that’s in part because I don’t want it to conclude yet. I’m hoping that this experiment was enough of a success to justify another U.S. printing of Wren’s adventures — not only so that I can spend more time in this world, but so that I can see these events play out in the increased page space they deserve.