Ignition City #2

A mere two weeks after this mini's debut, the second issue hits and is, somehow, an improvement on the first. Gone is the toilet humor, replaced with a stronger focus on pushing the plot forward and fleshing out these old space heroes now drunks and criminals, now broken down and pathetic.

Mary Raven continues her quest to find out how her father died, learning that he was killed with a raygun while he slept. Not quite the fitting death for a space hero, but then what is? In her search for those responsible, she has her own heroes die right before her, seeing how two of the three first people to go into space have become. It's a cruel thing to find out your heroes are just human beings like yourself. Even someone as strong and knowledgeable as Mary isn't immune from a slight shock as that small part of hope and wonder dies inside.

Ellis is near the top of his game here as everyone is damaged. The heroes, the villains, everyone seems to be going through the motions of life, half hoping that they won't wake up the next day, because if they can't be in space, if they're stuck on dirt, what's the point? "Ignition City" is a comic about people who have had their dreams taken from them and have to keep on living. It's mean and horrible, and very, very good.

One of Ellis's greatest strengths has always been his ability to bring out the humanity in his characters. He'll dress them up with lots of shouting and crazy actions, but there are glimpses of who they really are. Lightning Bowman sells guns and had Rock Raven killed, but he also lives in a spaceship that's pointed the wrong way and will probably never return to space. He's horrible and human.

Gianluca Pagliarani continues to provide evocative art that captures these characters so well, adding to Ellis's words. Lightning Bowman looks like a pathetic man, depicted in shadows, his shirt not looking heroic but shabby. In some panels, you can see the young man who flew rocket ships years ago and how does Pagliarani manage to show that? His Ignition City genuinely looks like the rotting remains of where the future crawled off to die. The people that inhabit it reflect that reality.

"Ignition City" is turning out to be as good as everyone hoped it would be as Ellis and Pagliarani deliver a very personal story but set against a larger world, one that they could get lost exploring -- and, yet, never seem to. Last issue hinted that they might, but this issue is more focused. Often brilliant and heartbreaking, you should be reading this book.

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