One of the things that really stood out to me about the second issue of Ex-Con #2 (from Dynamite by writer Duane Swierczynski and artists Keith Burns and Aikau Oliva) is the confidence that Swierczynski has in his “lights” concept. The conceit established in the first issue is that the protagonist of the book, Cody Pomeroy, used to be able to “read” the colored auras that people had around them and use those lights to manipulate them to his benefit. After being betrayed by his ex-girlfriend and sent to prison for five years, he lost the ability after being nearly beaten to death in prison. His life was saved by a big bad guy who saved Cody in exchange for Cody owing him a favor. Now, out of prison, Cody must do a favor for the big bad guy but try to use his old con man skills without the big cheat sheet he had with him since he was a kid. So here’s where I’m particularly impressed – in the first issue, Swierczynski established what color meant what. Well, as I noted, Cody lost his ability to read colors in the previous issue and I was surprised to see the concept dropped so quickly. However, in an interesting twist, the auras continue in the story – Cody just can’t read them anymore. WE can but he can’t. That’s a clever use of the idea but morover, Swierczynski doesn’t spell the colors out for us in this second issue. I just re-read #1 earlier today and I can’t remember which color went with what (besides, of course, green going with greed, because that’s just obvious) but there’s no explanation in #2 to everyone’s colors. You just have to either remember, check back to the guide in #1 or eventually figure it out based on context (if enough blues coincide with people telling the truth than you gotta figure blue means people are telling the truth). I love that confidence. It’s audacious. It’s very cool.
I mentioned last issue how well I thought Aikau Oliva lit the scene in Ex-Con and it continues in this issue. This is a well-colored book. Keith Burns also captures the look of the late 1980s well. I also love how effortlessly sexy he makes Cody’s parole officer, Alex.
Also, as you can see from the above pages, Burns has some very interesting page designs. I particularly enjoy the title page featured above.
Cody is an interesting character – it is fun to see him trying to make his way out of his situation without his old “light-seeing” skills. Swierzcynski does a nice job of showing him adapting to his new situation (and his new job). I also like that his parole officer actually cares enough about Cory to get involved in his life (even if it is seemingly to his detriment). I look forward to learning more about her.
Plus, come on, Bartles and James references! Awesomely 80s! “You’re paying for those very berries!” is a great line.
This has been a good start to the series. The Bradstreet cover isn’t as awesome as the first issue’s cover, though, but it’s still a good cover!
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