In “EI8HT” #2, Rafael Albuquerque and Mike Johnson start up a new thread and begin to advance the one they introduced last issue as events from the present day, past and future come into play. There is a fourth “era” known as the Meld, a timeless, ravaged and despotic landscape where most of the events take place and where a memory-impaired Joshua remains stranded after undertaking a sort of time-displacement mission intended to somehow save his dying wife. Connections between the different storylines remain vague; however, Albuquerque and Johnson deepen the connection between Joshua and Nila, the young woman he first encountered, although plenty of questions remain.
Albuquerque employs a unique usage of color in his story, using different tones to differentiate between scenes taking place in the past, present, future or Meld. It’s more of a storytelling device than an embellishment, as the art is essentially black and white with the colors added as an aid. It’s a clever trick that gives Albuquerque’s story a different flavor, although the story itself doesn’t fully capitalize on the momentum established in the last issue. This issue starts off with a new set of characters caught up in their own problematic time travel circumstance, one that transports them from sometime in the future to the distant past. The writers then move back to Joshua and provide a little more background on his past, as well as the current way of things in the Meld.
The circumstances within this warring world, though, don’t match up to the intrigue established in the other characters’ situations. Nila debates with the rulers of her tribe on what to do with Joshua, while the Spear — leader of the soldiers who are at war with Nila’s people — ponders how the tech on Joshua’s ship can expand their influence across time and space. The appearances of the characters are well-designed by Albuquerque; the rulers of Nila’s clan have a primitive yet elegant look, while the Spear appears sinister yet regal. Appearances are largely what carry this part of the story, as the element of two opposing factions at war doesn’t hold up as well as Joshua’s slowly unfolding story or even that of the surviving characters introduced at the start of the issue.
Albuquerque’s rougher, grungy style is well-suited to this story that largely takes place in a primitive and brutal world; not just the Meld, but also the savage prehistoric landscape of this issue’s newly introduced storyline. “EI8HT” #2 doesn’t quite live up to the promise established in the first issue, but it’s nonetheless a more-than-capable chapter in a compelling story.