It’s two issues into “The Fuse,” Antony Johnston and Justin Greenwood’s mystery/procedural comic set on a massive space station in the future. While I like the investigation into the murder, it’s actually their depiction of what it would be like to live on the Fuse that ultimately sells this series.
Don’t take this to mean that the investigation itself isn’t interesting — Johnston is a seasoned writer at this point and he knows quite well how to plot out a story. There are slow reveals about the victim, as well as about Detectives Dietrich and Ristovych. They’re piecing the evidence together methodically and slowly, and their interactions are entertaining as they continue to get to know one another and begin to unclench a bit.
That said, it’s the world of “The Fuse” that gets me, with Johnston creating political parties, slang, splinter groups, and everything else he can dream up. In other words, “The Fuse” isn’t slapping a typical crime procedural into a futuristic outfit and calling it a day. Instead, he’s actually shaping an entire setting with everything that entails. There aren’t any easy fallbacks or shortcuts being taken here; instead we’re plunging into all different levels of the world, from the political upper crust to the seedy underbelly. That’s ultimately what makes “The Fuse” #2 work so well, because we’re starting to truly understand everything that makes it tick.
Greenwood’s art is interesting, here, as it veers between different levels of a cartoonish style. The campaign video is an example of some of his art that I really like; the mayor’s face shifts from sad to forceful to warm, just as his speech has him hit each of those points. It’s a great way to bring across the different moods that a campaign speech would hold within it, and I like it a lot. But every now and then, the faces in “The Fuse” #2 feel a little too stretched, a little distorted for my taste. Ristovych at the top of the final page, for instance, is suddenly missing the smooth and clean character design that we normally receive from her. Instead it’s a little off kilter, with one eye a little higher than the other and everything else following suit. On the whole I think the fluid nature of Greenwood’s art works, so if those occasional moments could be ironed out I think we’d be good.
Overall, I’m enjoying “The Fuse” a lot. Johnston and Greenwood’s diverse future feels well thought-out in its depiction of the world, but doesn’t lose track of telling a story either. If you’re looking for science-fiction or crime procedural, you’ll probably like this comic. If you’re looking for both, well, you might have just hit the jackpot.