IDW Publishing 2019
Written by Jade Lagardere
Illustrated by Butch Guice
Lettered by Christa Miesner & Robbie Robbins
Amber Blake is a top recruit at a covert agency dead-set on ending human slavery in all of its forms—and eliminating the criminals behind it. Now she and her partner Matt are deployed on their first mission—the sabotage of a sex trafficking ring run by the yakuza in Japan—but they might not be prepared for the monsters they’ll have to face.
I really enjoyed the first issue of this, a lot more than I had anticipated I might add, so I had high hopes coming into this one. I get the whole revenge thing for Amber I mean she was orphaned, abused and watched her closest friend in the world die. That is going to mess your head big-time and that she’s been able to hold it together this long is quite the accomplishment in my eyes. Still the characterisation that Jade brings to her is like a kaleidoscope, she is obsessed and that will lead to mistakes and misjudgements on her part and if she’s not careful it could destroy her.
She may be at Argon as a real agent now, along with Matt, and using their equipment and technology for her own purposes, or is she, but that doesn’t mean missions don’t come first. Let’s talk about Matt for a minute shall we, sure why not. He tried to get into her good graces at Cleverland and followed her to Argon seemingly like any love-sick puppy would do. But what do we really know about his background? I like how it is broached here and that it either traumatised him so much he refuses to revisit it or and this is the big one, or he was never really abused at all. Though I am thinking Stockholm Syndrome in his case and if dabbles in sex with well both genders? Amber’s life is clearly laid out for us, his isn’t and that’s like getting a piece of shredded wheat under your dentures.
So their first mission together, odd that two such newer agents would be teamed up, and the technology that they have is what actually steals the scene. Sure they want to get to this guy, discredit him and rob him blind making him look like he’s incompetent in front of the Japanese Clans but as these things tend to go with newer agents it all went tits up. Surprising? Not really but then again I am incredibly impressed with the way Jade is not only structuring the book but throwing out things cause the reader to use their mind and become engaged in the story.
Butch sigh I love his work, his linework is simply stunning to see and his attention to detail is as flawless as always. The way he can bring these characters to life, make them so incredibly lifelike including subtle facial features and expressions that make them uber sexy, yes I am definitely including Matt in this, not to mention full of emotion. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show his seasoned and sensational eye for storytelling. The way that backgrounds are utilised also show us that he understands how they need to be used so they expand the moments and bring a size and scope to their world. The colour work is great as well and the light sources, shading and use of darkness and light (daytime) make things that much more interesting.
Everything that I see in these pages is so incredibly well done. From concept to the execution of the story & plot development, pacing and characterisation through Butch’s –let’s face facts—award winning worthy interiors this is exciting, fresh and bold in how we see the main characters life playing out before us.