Alone vol. 12: The Rebels of Neosalem – Fabien Vehlmann

3 out of 5

It’s a bit silly of an arc, in which complex plans boil down to “run” and we feature not one but two sweet-ass rollerblade jumps off of conveniently sloped landmarks which act as ramps, cue 80s guitar riff.

Vehlmann has spread our characters so far apart that we can only afford to touch base with them one volume at a time, and we’re focused on Leila in volume 12. Who’s just as worthwhile as any other character, except that she’s stuck dealing with Saul, who’s a pretty noxious villain, unfortunately, and can only pout like a baby and then set up Bond traps to throw at Leila. The arena – something that felt established, and so contextually “believable” – gives way to more and more ridiculous stunts that should’ve taken forever to set up but happen overnight, and while I get (I think) that Vehlmann is setting Saul up as something of a patsy for the other family members to use, we still have to deal with his ridiculousness in the meantime.

I mean, the stuff is fun – those rollerblade jumps are part of an exciting, mine-laden race involving carrying a frickin’ baby around like a hot potato, so Fabien still likes proving that he’s not playing around with stakes – but it’s all purely distraction fodder for an escape from Neosalem; we’re just trying to get chunks of characters out from where they’ve been stuck and back together.

We cycle around for one page check-ins with everyone, though, and we get drips and drabs of ominous dialogue to suggest what’s to come, so the story still has me hooked, for sure, this is just one of the more transitional volumes.