‘Beyond the Breach’ continues to draw the audience even further into a bizarre and truly horrifyingly brutal world where there are more questions than there are answers, which is delightful, before dropping a game-changing cliffhanger. All of this is brought to life with some distinctive and quite beautiful artwork that never shies away from the true horror and hardship of this situation.
The debut issue of AfterShock Comic’s series Beyond the Breach was easily one described as going from zero to sixty right out of the gate with no signs of slowing down. This is beyond accurate because the second issue in fact doesn’t slow down as the bizarre creatures and danger from these breaches intensifies and the amount of questions Vanessa has only grown larger.
As noted in the first issue review, throwing your audience into the proverbial deep end is a move that can utterly fail, fall flat or pay huge dividends. It all depends on what the guiding hands of the story bring to the table. Ed Brisson, Damian Couceiro, Patricio Delpeche, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou bring a lot of awesome stuff to the table.
Couceiro has a very detailed style of artwork that really helps with the wide diversity of creatures and beings that come from the breaches but also the handful of humans that are still standing in this moment. There are some brutal moments in the book where harsh attacks happen to characters and the art doesn’t shy away from depicting that harm. This isn’t a story where regular people are flung all around and end up a bit dirty but no worse for the wear.
There is a darker color palette with a tinge of otherworldliness to it that comes from Delpeche, adding to the horror and fear vibes of this situation. Every creature meant to be dangerous truly looks like they crawled right out of the worst level of nightmare imaginable, both in detail and then the grotesque colors that add to their alienness. Even the armor of the stranger that Vanessa meets is truly horrifying looking and would not lead to one trusting the individual right away.
There is a page early on (featured further down below) where Vanessa struggles to stay conscious and we get a really hazy shadowy POV shot of her rescue. It’s so clever and well-executed. Of course, this is what things would look like as Vanessa struggles to keep conscious after taking a nasty blow from one of the breach beings. Not only that, sometimes the truly most striking action imagery is that which you cannot see 100%, but you can get the gist of it and fill in some of it with your imagination.
There is another page that showcases some of the devastation that is just haunting with its fiery orange glow against the purple backdrop of the skies around them. Mixed with a lot of death and horror.
Adding to the distinctiveness is the great lettering work from Otsmane-Elhaou, who makes sure that the different beings have varied shapes to their speech bubbles but also to the font and patterns of their speech. Vanessa’s even changed at the moment where she is suffering from an injury, helping indicate that her words are harder and different since she took a pretty nasty blow.
Can’t forget the SFX that range from gloriously bloody to big and bold and colorful, the ones for gunfire perfectly fitting into the illustrated bullet paths. Those SFX that really take up the forefront in the last few pages are beautiful and bright while they cover up a truly brutal fate for an individual. This blend actually makes the brutal death even more effective because it’s shadowed by the bright SFX laser beams in a way that lets you know this was a hard way to go but you don’t fully see it in all its gory detail.
Brisson knows exactly how to dangle just enough to keep the reader invested but without revealing too much quite yet. Answering some questions which just lead to the formation of more questions in their stead.
At the same time, the characters we’ve met so far feel solid and fleshed out, and compelling even though we know very little about them. What we know and what we see them going through is enough though to form a connection, which is strong character work. There was a big moment at the end of the first issue that elicited the biggest gasp and “Wait, no, you can’t do that!” only to lead to something that changed that which brought a sigh of relief as I flipped through the pages.
How far down the science fiction rabbit hole this book is going, throwing out a ton of new wrinkles to the mysterious breach event, is uncertain. Which is what makes it compelling. A lot of good stories out there are stories that you can figure out where they are going based upon experience, and then there are a lot of good stories where you are just along for the glorious ride ready to explore every detail as it appears. This is one of the latter types, in the best way possible.
Beyond the Breach #2 is now on sale in print and digitally from AfterShock Comics.