After three years in prison, Nathan Cole is having trouble adjusting back to normal life. The perception of his role in the transference has changed, but his burdensome guilt still remains. In Oblivion, after the first attack of the Faceless Men, Ed Cole charges out to rescue his people. News of the mysterious threat reaches Nathan on Earth, and he likewise rushes into Oblivion to save a team of researchers. Ed narrowly survives the first encounter with his new enemy, and things go from bad to worse when the full scope of the Faceless Men's plot is revealed.
This third chapter represents a pivotal moment for Oblivion Song. Kirkman has essentially rebooted his story with the time jump and raised the stakes significantly with the arrival of the Faceless Men. We get reintroduced to all of the characters, but the Cole brothers are the ones with the most time in the spotlight. They are separated by time and the trans-dimensional rift, but the catalyst of the Faceless Men launches them both into parallel stories that converge in the explosive final issue.
The growing anticipation for the Cole brothers' reunion was my favorite part of this volume. These characters fascinate me, and it's been exciting to watch their relationship evolve over twelve issues. At times, they've been at odds, but in the beginning of this volume, they are unwittingly aligned. Ed and Nathan both feel responsible for the people in Oblivion. Ed defines himself as a defender of Oblivion and a leader in the camp. Nathan is still defined by his guilt.
The series continues to give thoughtful commentary on survivor's guilt, post-traumatic stress, and how people deal with both. After three years, and thanks to research done by Duncan and Bridget's foundation, some good has finally come from the transference. But Nathan still says in issue 14, "There's a scar on the world, and I put it there." The world has absolved him, but he still can't forgive himself. So, when something bad happens in Oblivion, of course, he runs head first into the breach, because the appearance of the Faceless Men gives him an opportunity to deal with his guilt in a familiar way, by putting himself in danger.
There's something to be said for comics that take their time and creators that feel free to tell long-form stories with big casts of characters. Oblivion Song: Volume 3 is, unmistakably, the first act of a much larger storyline. It is a slow simmer that eventually erupts into a rolling boil but leaves us at the threshold of act two. As a result, there were some parts that felt slow, but never unnecessary. Kirkman clearly has a story he wants to tell, and he's not rushing it.
Even though Oblivion Song is more than just a humans versus monsters story, De Felici is pretty darn good at drawing monsters. His eerie contorting lines, that in some instances seem simultaneously jagged and smooth, fill every panel in Oblivion with looming dread. And Annalisa Leoni's sickeningly beautiful electric colors look like what putting a nine-volt battery on your tongue feels like. (Don't do that, by the way.)
Oblivion Song: Volume 3 is an important turning point in the story. Fans of the series, like me, will likely be left satisfied but wanting more. There are so many questions left unanswered and so many new obstacles to overcome. But the Cole brothers are back together, and that promises an exciting adventure in Oblivion in the next stage of the story.
Creative Team: Robert Kirkman (writer), Lorenzo De Felici (artist), Annalisa Leoni (colors) Rus Wooton (letters)
Publisher: Image Comics / Skybound
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