Issue #1 time jumped from the past to the present to show how a father (Piotr) and son’s (Kiril) relationship eventually fell apart. The father was a sort of KGB soldier/spy – a real badass killer. To his son, he was basically a nobody; at least, that’s how he saw his father as an adult. The layers of familial psychology built into the first issue, of how not wanting someone to find out a truth will prevent you from being close to them in other ways, was all too real; it was really grounded. Feeling trapped, the son - as an adult - was living a life of sexual freedom in Russia and decided to go to Blackstone. Blackstone is a place where you go to work hard labor, but in return you get to live the life you want to live. The son came back in a body bag. The first issue was packed with raw emotion. You could tell it was personal to the creators. The death of the son propels the father to go to Blackstone himself to learn not only about what happened to his son, but to find out who his son really was.
The second issue introduces us to the world of Blackstone, and it’s veered away from that raw, personal storytelling, opting for something that feels a bit more like…a comic book. That’s not a bad thing – it’s just not precisely what I expected after the very emotionally driven first issue.
Part of the reason I feel this is because we break away from Piotr’s point of view to fill in characters and situations that he doesn’t know about. Story wise, it could all be fine and dandy. A lot of stories do this; they want you to know who the hero is going to be going head to head with. This isn’t a critique so much as an observation as to why I feel we lose the very personal thrust of the first issue.
Piotr comes across two gangs fighting to dominate Blackstone, and this issue basically spends its time building that element into the story. One side is a suit-and-tie kind of gang, wanting businesses to pay a fee to them or suffer the consequences. The other gang is full of fighters with purple, Matrix-style jackets on. They claim to be fighting for the people of Blackstone. Both sides are pretty badass and deadly, and I presume they will be a thorn in Piotr’s side as the story continues.
It's not a bad second issue. It world builds but, in doing so the way it does, loses some of that unique dynamic that made the first issue so captivating. Going into a mysterious city and then suddenly knowing more about it than the hero undercuts some of that journey. But I’m still here. That first issue has given me the motivation to continue on some time longer to see where this goes. With an assortment of characters now introduced, I look forward to getting back into Piotr’s search.
Creative Team: Steve Orlando (writer, creator), Garry Brown (artist, creator), Lee Loughridge (colors), Thomas Mauer (letters), Arielle Basich (associate editor), Jon Moisan (editor)
Publisher: Image Comics
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