In issue four of six, "Wild's End" finds the crew finally reunited with Fawkes. After an initial confrontation with the clicking aliens in a cornfield, the rest of the issue is mostly conversation until the invaders reappear. As a result, it's one of the slower issues of the miniseries, but it does provide some backstory and development for the characters. "Wild's End" remains brisk and entertaining, but I'm excited for the creative team to pick up their pace for the final two installments.
I.N.J. Culbard's simple, unembellished work has been a lovely fit for the series, letting the book feel like a restrained "The Wind in the Willows." The characters' simple figures and almost contour-less faces do much to establish the mood. However, they are ill-suited for talking head panels. There are quite a few conversations in this issue, and while they're illuminating, they aren't always visually interesting. Culbard also doesn't also handle viewpoint well. He'll switch from facing a character head-on to looking over their shoulder, with no establishing panels in between. It makes otherwise readable and expected jumps in conversation feel unmoored and jarring.
That said, the opening cornfield scene is beautiful. Culbard uses the gun barrels and shadows to create crisp, exciting visuals, and the mustard yellow of the long grass is a great break from the browns and midnight blues that otherwise fill the series. It makes for an arresting opener.
Though I still haven't quite gotten over the exaggerated accents in Dan Abnett's script, his dialogue is otherwise believable and quick. Though all the characters fit clear archetypes, they interact with refreshing stability and maturity. Their conflicts and differences are never more important than survival, and they don't scapegoat one another.
They're also balanced. Susan, for example, sounds as though she's been wronged, having edited all her ex-husband's books, but she's also a literary snob. The brave characters can be reckless, and the weak characters can be sensible. Abnett has created a really solid team dynamic here.
Much as I like the characters' interactions, though, they aren't necessarily interesting enough to sustain my interest for as many pages as they're given in issue #4. There's a lot of walking, talking and waiting things out in an abandoned pub here, and it starts to drag. That same measuredness that makes this team so enjoyable on the run makes them rather less fascinating when they're just having a chat.
I've enjoyed the appendix material in previous issues, and "Wild's End" #4 is no exception. The "Alien Men from the Moon" excerpt here is quite fun. With descriptions like "fusty space-dog of the old school" and awkward verbs like "ejaculated" and "erupted," it's a perfect example of the sort pulpy, popular fiction that Susan references.
All told, "Wild's End" continues to be a pleasant, pretty miniseries that's really free of major problems. Though this issue felt in many ways like the lull before the storm, its cliffhanger ending promises a winning conclusion to the series.