4 out of 5
- Stefano Martino is taking a break after issue #4 of Alan Dracon, putting the book on indefinite hiatus
- Even if / when Martino returns, Alan Dracon is only slated to be a six issue miniseries
Both of these things make me incredibly sad. To the first one – of course we want our creators to be healthy, and to take the time they need to put out quality work. But I’m also a selfish comic reader who, despite having several stacks to the ceiling (a physical ceiling and a digital one) of books I need to read or reread, wants MORE comics to read, because when they’re great – like Dracon – they wipe out any lemme-check-my-wallet doubts you have about your collecting habits… and so I wish and hope we get the two remaining Dracon issues sooner rather than later. And that there’s enough creative energy left for Stefano to turn it into an ongoing and send it directly to me.
However, at least this mini-series is being written in 2-issue story arcs, so we’re not left on a cliffhanger.
We jump some time ahead from the preceding issues, such that Alan, psychic buddy Matt, and scientist friend (and not-so-secret-crush) Ori are all well-established friends, and Alan is called away to a new job protecting another scientist, who’s gone a little cracked since a recent discovery. Issue 3 digs into that – we learn about the discovery; Alan makes some pretty massive decisions – before issue 4 sics assassin Kanoo on Dracon, settling scores from the past, which thematically ties it in to the third issue. Martino, as translated by El Torres, again surprises by how well scripted all of this is: Alan has a noir-ish narrative running throughout, but it proves to be appreciably self-aware, commenting on genre tropes and also giving Alan a great depth to his character. The discoveries of issue 3 are conceptually massive, and its compressed especially well – through dialogue and this narration – with the emotional impact upon Dracon felt and shown in different ways that, once again for this medium, proves the value of having both art and words tell a story. Then in issue 4, more action-centric, Martino balances his hero’s smarts and fighting prowess for a clever solve to a battle he knows he can’t win. We also get some fascinating flashes on Kanoo’s mental state, deepening her character as well.
The Dracon / Ori flirtation is again the underwhelming aspect to the series. Skipping ahead in the timeline helps a bit, as we can accept that Alan has been harboring a crush this whole time, but that’s just it: it feels like a crush, and for the way Martino skillfully dodges genre stereotypes elsewhere, the writing on this feels incredibly naive and emotionally unearned (as before, when Dracon had just met Ori), despite attempts to lampshade it as such. The frustrating thing is that their friendly banter does feel more realistic, so I go back to wishing we could see more issues of Dracon that would allow the relationship to evolve a bit more organically, instead of building in an angle that I’m guessing will have some cheesy smooching payoff in the if-they-ever-arrive final two issues. But maybe Stefano will surprise me on that front as well.