Ryder On The Storm #2

Story by
Art by
Wayne Nichols
Colors by
Sansan Saw, Feigian Chong
Letters by
Jimmy Betancourt
Cover by
Radical Comics

This comic impressed on its first outing as it meshed hard-boiled fiction with sci-fi tropes to produce a heady blend of character narrative and complete world immersion. A wonderful set up that ended with a great reveal at the end, I was hooked and very keen for this second issue. It lives up to the debut, though it does miss a few beats that don't ruin the tale but they do make you stop more often than you should.

Nearly the whole first half of this issue is expositional background information. These are concepts and connections we need to know but there must have been more natural ways to get them across. It helps that they are brought to us in sweeping splash pages from Nichols that made me feel like I was watching a historical Ed Zwick opus, only with more toothy daemons. This slowed the pacing down but the issue very quickly gets back on track.

It helps to read this comic if you look at it through the lens of great crime drama from history. It might be all about shooting ugly monsters with bullets that hold the blood of another ancient monster but it's also about pulp so hard-boiled you should be using it to smack other readers in the head to take notice of this series. There are some very close elements to "Chinatown" at play here - the town's water supply is important and you should always love your family - and it strikes me as genius that Hine might very well be remaking Polanski's classic as a mash up with some down and dirty sci-fi.

Once you understand this comic is playing to the strengths of the detective genre, you won't mind how easily Ryder manages to bed two women within the space of half an issue. You should already know the rules of this genre and so not expect pages of wooing; there's just no time for that and I wouldn't have it any other way. The structure and meter of this comic is spectacular if you take the time to appreciate it.

There's action in this comic and it has consequences. People die -- and we see how in detail -- and then it changes the narrative; It ups the stakes. The tension has risen to drowning heights and we find out the eponymous Ryder might just be playing every side off against the other. He's a Continental Op caught in the middle and determined to come through alive, even if he is the last man standing. He's not beholden to anyone, or so it might appear, and that's refreshing to see in a hero. He seems to understand his situation and what might be required for its resolution.

While this second issue wasn't quite as strong as the first, it is now two-thirds through the entire story and it is one hell of a tale. Once we get the set up and back story, this book rockets through some decent action but it is the immoral interplay of the characters that delights on a visceral level. This is nasty fiction about terrible people caught in a messy situation. And the twist on the last page is like a dagger in the hands of a very bad man, it's sure to deliver pain and it's probably not finished yet. But you can't look away. "Ryder On The Storm" is a great crime comic influenced by the beats and tropes of the classics, study this and understand that new stories and thrills are always possible.

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