“Injection” #3 continues its curious path forward, as Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire give us a comic about strange happenings that blend technology, folklore and perhaps something in-between into a general sense of weirdness. While the comic hasn’t outright given us any answers on what’s going on or what the Injection is, there are enough clues to potentially have an answer; of course, whether that answer is correct is another matter entirely.
“Injection” #3 once more mixes the present — Maria Killbride puzzling out what to do with the mess that an archaeologist helped create, Brigid Roth preparing for a consultation and Robin Morel trying to avoid becoming a Cunning Man — with the past, which sees more of the initial meeting of the Cultural Cross-Contamination Unit. It’s a deliberate dribbling out of information; we now know what strangeness is centered around the missing archaeologist and that it’s connected to the Injection. It’s enough to make sure that the book isn’t just spinning its wheels and continues to lure the reader down its path.
That said, the storytelling that truly stands out is what Shalvey and Bellaire accomplish in the visuals. There’s an amazing sequence where Robin starts a phone conversation sprawled on a hotel bed. As he’s talking, he begins to sit up as he starts to notice what observant readers have picked up; the panels are getting darker, and his surroundings slowly are getting replaced with a dank forest until only the phone and a window remain. It’s an incredible looking series of panels and pages; as a flock of birds takes off, the foreboding gets stronger and stronger. Shalvey has created a distinctly uninviting forest, and Bellaire colors it in dark greens and grays, so that it’s still recognizably a forest but one that screams “Run away!” rather than “Come visit!” When Robin tells the spirit of the forest that he’s not helping, the end result is a jaw-dropping two-page spread. Shalvey and Bellaire have created hundreds (if not thousands) of leaves that explode across the scene, the mystical forest burning off in an expanse of bright white light. Not only is it dramatic, but it ends the scene perfectly. Ellis doesn’t need to revisit Robin again this issue to show us that he’s back in his normal hotel room; the intent is crystal clear, even as we can’t help but stop and examine every last leaf to see the immense amount of detail put into every single one. “Injection” #3 is an amazing-looking comic, and this is just one of the many reasons why.
As mentioned before, there might be enough information to make a couple of guesses as to what’s happening within this series at this point. It’s a reasonable to connect the dots between the Injection’s logo appearing on computer screens, Robin’s comment that the Injection is unable to create anything new and is just playing with old stories and Brigid’s having created an artificial intelligence sometime before the CCCU was created. What’s nice is that, even if Ellis has something completely different in mind on the Injection’s nature, the fact that we have enough of a fully-realized world to make these guesses three issues in says that the pieces of information released are starting to add up to something (even if it’s just a false path).
Ultimately, that’s what keeps me coming back for more. I’m enjoying the guessing game even as another portion is revealed. Wherever “Injection” is ultimately headed, it’s a lot of fun getting there. This is the sort of series where you could pick up this issue as your first taste, but understand that backtracking to scoop up #1-2 as well will result in a stronger experience. Ellis, Shalvey and Bellaire are doing something crazy and fun here and, once the first story arc is completed, I suspect that the greater whole will be that much stronger as a fully-assembled construction. That’s definitely the case up until now; bring on “Injection” #4, please.