In "Shutter" #5 by Joe Keatinge and Leila del Duca, Kate Kristopher has a chance to talk with her newly revealed half-brother, Chris Kristopher Jr., and their conversation leads Kate to uncover one of her father's greatest lies.
When summarized thus, "Shutter" #4 seems decompressed. Most of the substance of the issue is one conversation. However, the way the action develops makes it the richest issue of "Shutter" so far, particularly in the characterization and emotional depth. Keatinge's opening flashback is excellent teaser, hinting at past intrigue, introducing the mysterious red monk. The transition back to the present links this memory to Kate's current situation. While there are many mysteries still, Keatinge gives the reader at least one big answer in "Shutter" #5, and it's a humdinger. Keatinge structures the plot so that Kate's reaction to Chris Jr.'s age and the most damaging secret of all is revealed on the last page. The twist comes off beautifully.
The character interaction is also stellar. Keatinge's dialogue and pacing gets across the anxiety and awkwardness of the situation. Kate's reactions are psychologically convincing, and del Duca's facial expressions and body language Kate's disorientation and white-hot anger riveting. In a dialogue and personality-driven issue, del Duca's skills are particularly valuable. Her character design for Chris Jr. is excellent. He looks like a younger version of his father. He's a cute kid, seemingly eager to please and very open. Keatinge's dialogue indicates these qualities and the vulnerability of his age, Del Duca is able to reinforce them through body language.
"Shutter" #5 finally makes Kate not just admirable, but relatable. Before, she seemed like a privileged young woman, hiding from the life she was meant to love and not fulfilling her destiny and full potential. It seemed like she'd had an enviable life, but when the reader learns what she's been through and what she's going through now, her frustration and inertia are explained.
As before, del Duca's world-building is fantastic, in every sense of the word. She stretches her visual imagination in the action scenes, but the rest of "Shutter" #5 occurs in the quieter environment of Kate's family home. Del Duca's interiors have a wealth of detail in the furnishings and on the walls. Gieni's colors are strong in "Shutter" #5 too, especially in the subtle change of light as time passes and his attention to light and shadow.
"Shutter" #5 has backup extras, including a piece of delightful, elaborate and impressive fan art. One can't measure the quality of a comic by the quality of the fan art, but it's notable that "Shutter" is already so rich in detail that there are already in-jokes and references in the "screenshots" of a Nintendo game version of "Shutter" for the reader to chuckle over.
With the initial expository action out of the way, Keatinge and del Duca can devote more of their skills to characterization and plot structure in "Shutter" #5. The first few issues were beautiful and distinctive, but with "Shutter" #5, the series turns a major corner successfully, sinking its hooks deeper into the reader and becoming an exceptional read.