4 out of 5
I’m going to offer up another dumb reason why this volume of Gunnerkrigg is slightly less than perfect: the story is too big.
This is truly an excellent payoff to the previous volume’s bite-your-nails cliffhanger, and manages the Siddell magic of swirling everything we’ve learned thus far into a new way forward, without the series, without things sniffing cheaply of reboots or retcons. But I suppose part of what’s been so rewarding to me is the way that little, seemingly offhand stories have built the whole, and our narrative is at such a point here that we can really only manage one of those in this volume, otherwise the whole thing is one straight forward telling of what came next.
Which is insane, and wonderful, and wholly unpredictable. Thomas’ dialogue is sometimes such that it skips over chunks of explanation for us to fill in via context – and some stuff is purposefully vague, for sure – and when there’s a constantly huge, forward story thrust as is in Synthesis, that happens quite a bit. So, too, does the art have to adapt to the scope, relying more often on the surreal aether-world style art than straight paneling.
It is, without a doubt, still a page turner. 300 of which fly by, as ever populated with those brief comic moments mixed with surprisingly deep emotional connections and a storyline that’s so wonderfully internally logical but continually surprising. I do worry that we’ll have crossed some line where we no longer get the quieter moments, but the quality of the larger moments are at the very least still of the utmost.