"Breathless #2" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Black Mask Studios
Written by Pat Shand
Illustrated by Renzo Rodriguez
Colored by Mara Jayne Carpenter
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on May 2nd, 2018
Imagine walking into your office one day and finding a complete bloodbath. Bodies are strewn everywhere and there's a hideous monster standing in the center, literally sucking the life out of someone. No, it's not Joan from accounting. It's a drinker and it's coming for you next. That's the situation that Scout and Grace-Eisley find themselves in. They'll have to think fast if they want to get out of there alive, but that's just the start of their problems. Someone wants them dead.
Breathless ups the action factor considerably in its second issue. Much of this chapter feels like something right out of Aliens, as this creature hunts the two women through blood-soaked hallways. Fortunately, Scout and Grace-Eisley are like modern day Ripleys and they're ready to kick some ass. Judging by how comfortable Scout is with a laser gun, she may be in the wrong line of work.
As badass as Scout is, Grace-Eisley is quickly becoming my favorite character. Sure, she freaks out a bit, playing into the role of a weak, terrified girl, but that's a facade for the strong woman hiding beneath the surface. She picks up a “grip whip” and proves to be pretty formidable with it. Plus, she brings some levity to the action and mayhem, as her priorities are a little skewed. Her and Scout make a great team.
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I'm going to keep the Aliens references going for a bit, as the design for the drinker is reminiscent to that of a xenomorph. It's built for speed and murder. The appendage that gives it its nickname is a long tongue that acts like a third arm, whipping out quickly to attack or grab its victims. This looks a little too phallic at times, but still pretty creepy. It appears to have no eyes, so this might be how it sees the world. Artist Renzo Rodriguez makes a pretty menacing monster.
The panel layout for this initial conflict reflects the danger the women are in. The images are varied in size and some have a rougher outline to them, like they're struggling to close their borders to stop the monster from coming in. These subtle effects work to amplify the overall tension of the scene.
Rodriguez also has some very cool shots throughout the battle and immediately after. My personal favorite is a tall panel that shows Scout and Grace-Eisley running up the stairs. They pass through more carnage and dead bodies as they make their way up to the exit.
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Colorist Mara Jayne Carpenter shines in a shadowy interior sequence midway through the comic. There's an awesome sequence where a drinker is attacking a refrigerator, presumably opening it up looking for more people to eat. The light from the fridge casts an eerie haze on the creature, giving it an otherworldly feel.
There's a larger conspiracy at play in Breathless that we know from the description of the series and the issues so far, but it hasn't been clearly explained in the actual story. Since Scout inadvertently discovered the cure for asthma, a pharmaceutical company is trying to squash it and anyone that knows about it, to protect its profits. This is a brilliant idea, but it's not properly explained just yet. We see who sent these monsters after Scout and her company, but not so much why.
Speaking of, these men are perhaps the scariest part of Breathless. Their even-keeled nature in the face of brutal murder is chilling. They have a complete disregard for human life, which speaks to how these companies are perceived. The message in this book is heard loud and clear, although writer Pat Shand doesn't beat you over the head with it. What kind of world is this where someone like Scout has to worry about how she's going to afford medication that helps her breathe and stay alive? That's horrifying.
Breathless delivers a healthy mix of real world terror and crazy monsters. At its center is a smart, badass woman who is ready for a fight. She's been battling her own body her entire life, so she's used to a struggle. These big pharma executives don't know what they're up against.