Advance Review: Old-Fashioned Fisticuffs Dominate `August: Purgatory Underground’ #4

by Tom Smithyman


If you like a good, old-fashioned fist fight, the final issue of this limited series is for you. Creator Benjamin Morse draws a beautiful mano-a-mano exchange that is exciting and easy-to-follow. Some unnecessary and repetitive dialogue clogs the fight a bit, though, and the battles runs on the long side – dominating more than half this issue.


The more that technology plays into science fiction action stories, the more creators choose to simplify their fighting styles. For all the ray guns and flying capes in Flash Gordon, many of the fights are with old-fashioned swords. Star Trek may have its phasers and photon torpedoes, but Captain James Kirk always preferred a drop kick.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that creator of August chose a low-tech approach to the climatic fight of this limited series – despite being set on a far-flung planet in the distant future. Well over half of the final issue is focused on this battle royale between August and Baron Siegan, the cyborg who is hell-bent on getting revenge on the captain and the Earth-based Federation.

Still, it’s a curious choice, given the second issue was also dominated by a fist fight – one that left August clinging to life. He obviously survived, though it took weeks of recovery and a bionic arm to make him whole again. Fortunately, creator Benjamin Morse – who writes, draws, colors and letters the series –  has mastered the art of depicting a fight. The motions, energy and momentum swings in the fight are clear with Morse’s pencils. No words are needed for the reader to understand what is happening and who is winning.

Morse, though, does choose to fill the fight with dialogue, as the baron sneers and threatens and as August boosts himself, with help from his newfound ally, a local sheriff. Some back and forth during a fight makes sense and helps to explain characters’ motivations. But given the amount of time spent on the donnybrook, the dialogue gets old pretty quickly. Morse should trust that his strong artwork can convey the story he is trying to tell.

August: Purgatory Underground #4 will be available for purchase on November 16, 2022.

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