Like with many comic series, this release cannot be read as a standalone, and it's best to start at the beginning of the tale before jumping into #2. Part of the IDW series formerly known as Purgatory, Gateway #1 introduced Jake Ryan, a no-nonsense undercover cop involved in a drug deal gone bad, culminating in his death, maybe. By the end of Gateway #1, it's still unclear if he's dead and inhabiting Purgatory, or in another dimension, but that's part of the mystery that will hopefully unravel as the series progresses. After a dramatic death and welcome to the afterlife, Jake and other newbies are introduced to Hopetown, a place offering sanctuary from the Dark Souls that roam the outside. But, is Hopetown all it seems?
Gateway #2 continues the story of Jake and others new to this world, all trying to determine if they can trust Hopetown and its self-appointed council. They all have stories, and Jake's own past leaks out over well-placed flashbacks. While untrusting of Hopetown and the political structure, if any of them dare to leave, they might run into a Dark Soul and a gruesome destruction.
There are many familiar things about Gateway, parts of characters and plot that are no stranger to the comic book world, yet there is a uniqueness contained within the pages that meshes together with the already done and makes it a fascinating tale. The reclusive, reluctant, and tough hero, Jake, is a solid character from page one. He's likeable, though he prefers not to be, and flawed characters often make for the best reads. The nice thing is he doesn't always do what I expect, and I love that aspect of his character. The story moves at a good pace and held my interest throughout, with a strong enough hook at the end to ensure that I'll pick up #3.
The artwork is perfect for this type of horror comic: clean with enough grit to convey emotion and tone. The Dark Souls are sufficiently scary to place a bit of fear in the pit of the reader's stomach, without being overdone. The settings of each panel are also well conveyed and brought me into this strange world, whether it be afterlife or alternate dimension. There is a certain doom and gloom to the place, without it being too dark or dramatic. Subtle touches only add to the realm, and it's not somewhere I ever want to go. Overall, a really nice job on the art in bringing the characters and setting to life.
With a great lead character, a new world filled with mystery, and well-crafted creatures frightful enough to make me dread turning the page, Gateway #2 continues an already strong story in a series that is sure to keep delivering.