5 out of 5
I love Dan Abnett’s standalone projects. He’s a writer burbling with ideas but also not one to dispense with comic chintz, which has given us the guts-and-glory fun of Kingdom, the anthropomorphic War of the Worlds pastiche of Wild’s End, and the sci-fi/Western genre celebration of Lawless, which gets a pass as ‘standalone’ since it’s so far removed from Dredd lore. Brink, in a way, is one of Dan’s most streamlined – in art and presentation – creations, but also one of his most thrillingly complex. It’s not hanging on pre-established tropes to skip past the exposition, rather, he and artist I.N.J. Culbard have holistically crafted their world to inform us – through character interactions; through design – what this particular post-Earth universe is about, while also tossing us way into the deep end of a creepy cult-conspiracy threat.
Security agent Briget Kurtis is back, investigating “ghost” sightings – and resultant deaths – aboard the under-construction Galina Habitat. The presence of Galina’s owner, Junot Corp’s Mariam, gives Culbard and Abnett an opportunity really twist the tone of their environment with a pop color of pink (Mariam’s preference), juxtaposed against the frightening openness of Galina’s looping floor plans. We might be questioning if we’re done with the Sect from Book One, and that Brink will prove to be isolated Kurtis mysteries, but instead of this seeming like a humdrum revelation, you realize how little it matters, given how awesome Kurtis is (with her unibrow and wide features) and how Abnett, with this character, has been perfectly able to blend the badassness of his Lawless lead with an approachable humility. Culbard, of whom I’m not a fan and still not a fan, is yet a perfect match for Brink’s streamlined environments, his simple lines preventing us from going overboard with sci-fi detail obsessions, focusing on the plot. That is a backhanded compliment, but it’s not just “Culbard not distract;” there’s certainly an intense amount of design work here, and the fact that it doesn’t get in the way and yet also creates a sense of space is for sure an accomplishment.
The first Brink’s plot turn was partially a speed-bump in that, initially, it feels somewhat separated from where the book starts. Which it is, sort of by design: more than meets the eye is afoot, but, uh, sometimes not, as well. Brink Book Two manipulates both sides of that (the ‘more’ and the ‘less’) to maximum effect, crafting a literally page-turning tale that’s rewarding from beginning to end.
The TPB doesn’t include any extras this time (save one cover), but it’s priced appropriately.