The Verge (#4) – Bryce McLellan

2 out of 5

Up front, let me say this rating probably isn’t fair, because this is not the ideal way – as the only issue I’m reading of a four-issue series, without any context – to read this comic book. I ordered some books from imprint Red 5, and they tossed in some freebies, one of which was The Verge, #4 of 4. This is… puzzling to me. Giving me the conclusion of a series on its own is likely going to have the effect it had: I’m robbed of any buildup and so I have no investment in the content, and even if the ending is crazy good, it’s a lower chance of me seeking out the previous issues to see how we got there than it would be for a first or second issue to lure me in to what happens next; at the very least-worst outcome, I’d say it puts less of a priority on following up, even if interested. There’s also the impression adding this in as a freebie gives: it’s a fairly new series as of this writing, so it kinda reeks of “we didn’t sell enough of this, here ya go,” not giving me much confidence even before cracking the cover. The inside cover summary also doesn’t add much for a new reader – not that that necessarily is its job, as an editor would / could rightly assume I’d be coming in with, y’know, some prior-issue experience.

All of that said, The Verge is also hindered by some hinky, jumpy pacing, what seems to be an underwhelming climax to me, and art that has some quality character work, but almost completely foregoes backgrounds for mushy splashes of colors. It’s not a very engaging issue, visually or story-wise, strictly on its own terms.

For an ending, I would expect – given the sci-fi, action-y genre in which the title may operate – a big battle or throwdown. We get this briefly, but it comes and goes without much ceremony, and the limited focus of the art doesn’t allow for much excitement in depicting it. Otherwise, it still seems like writer Bryce McLellan is trying to put characters into the right places and add further details to the story – not resolution-type details, just extra ones – pretty late in the game; it reads more like a lead-in to an ending, which runs out of space and so jams its final fight into minimal pages. The concept seems to be a time-jumping game of control, which people hopping between centuries with knowledge and technology in order to set themselves up as rulers in various eras, and that’s certainly a valid premise – I liked the apparent focus on two warring sides being samurai and vikings, as that’s a fun mash-up. Getting us to those final pages requires cutting between various conversations in different times / places; I think McLellan and artist Dexter Wee handle the timing of these transitions well, though the characters in some aren’t distinct enough for me to say who was who.

In most cases, I’d be willing to give a series a couple of issues to find its footing, but starting at the end like this kind of ruins my motivation for doing so, and what I’ve read unfortunately doesn’t encourage beyond that barrier.