Multiversity’s Pick of the Week is “The Fuse” #1 from the creative team of Antony Johnston and Justin Greenwood. Read our review below to check out what makes this terror at 20,000 miles so compelling!
Written by Antony Johnston
Illustrated by Justin Greenwood
“THE RUSSIA SHIFT,” Part One
Working homicide 22,000 miles up on an orbiting energy platform, in a five-mile-long jury-rigged steel city stuffed with a half million people, with no help from your so-called colleagues back on Earth, is more than tough…it’s murder!
Cynical, foul-mouthed veteran ANTONY JOHNSTON (UMBRAL, Wasteland, Daredevil) gets partnered with fresh-faced idealist JUSTIN GREENWOOD (Wasteland, Resurrection) for a new crime series with attitude! Murder, mayhem, and mystery—22,000 miles straight up.
Genre stories are tough, especially in comics where genre’s been the name of the game since Superman slapped a car so hard the only thing that could stop him was Fredric Wertham and an army of concerned mothers. Since then, comics have been inundated with every type of genre story ever, to the point that combinations and deconstructions of stories have become just as commonplace as the straightforward comics. So how then does a team stake out a territory for their own? I don’t have the exact answers, but Antony Johnston and Justin Greenword are definitely onto something with their new comic, “The Fuse.”
The premise behind “The Fuse” is relatively simple and sounds like something that should’ve been done before. Tough young cop moves to new precinct and gets partnered with older cop who’s already seen it all. Mystery is afoot, etc. etc. Even though it’s something we’ve definitely seen before, the “Fuse” team invigorates the story with enough of their own essences that it becomes unlike any other buddy cop comic on shelves.
I mean, mostly because it’s in space. “Buddy Cops in Space” has a lot to do with it, to be honest.
The rest of it has to do with Greenwood’s art which turns the titular space station into more than just that. It’s alive, filled with a people from countless walks of life, each one with a different journey that took them to The Fuse. None of these stories are ever fully stated in the story, but the various crowd scenes and just enormity of the space station creates the implication of a truly international story. “The Fuse” isn’t just Anglo-Saxons in Space; if anything it’s a literal international space station which, in combination with the gorgeous establishing shot of the station, the brooding corridors, and bustling streets, grounds The Fuse itself as a character in the story.
This is incredibly important in grounding the two main characters, Klementina and Dietrich. Neither of them have their whole pasts laid out, not just yet. Instead, they have little pieces of themselves expertly revealed through the dialogue. Honestly, they’re a bit similar to every Buddy Cop duo since Lethal Weapon, but context is everything. Klementina and Dietrich are not typical cops demographic wise (Elderly White Russian Lady, Young African-German Guy) but that aspect is never overplayed for laughs or anything. This is a comic about detectives on a spaceship, not the ridiculously wacky duo who could never possibly get along. Instead we get two characters who seem to be well on their way to having a pretty compelling dynamic.
Those two elements, the livelihood of the station and the main characters, are definitely the highlight of “Fuse” so far. But, without putting anything down unfairly, I’m not entirely sure I connect with the main plot. It’s a murder mystery revolving around the deaths of the lower class on “The Fuse” and the classist undertones could be pretty interesting if further developed. In this issue though, they take a back seat to both the characters and setting. Again, that’s not a bad thing as they’re both really enjoyable things. The first issue definitely sets up a lot of intrigue in the characters and story, but the plot seems like something that just kind of happens rather than a natural extension of everything else going on. Will it turn out to be neat? Probably. It’s less a case of “this plot sucks” and more “Well, looks like I’m going to have to wait for the next issue.”Continued below
Ah, the perils of serial storytelling.
“The Fuse” looks to be an incredibly interesting comic from Johnston (who has taken my PotW two times running now, and I promise its not due to nepotism) and Greenwood who’s totally won me over through both his art and the solicitation describing him as a fresh-faced idealist. The mystery may not be totally set in quite yet, but there’s enough in this world, carefully crafted by Greenwood and Johnston, to interest even the most tired fans of genre comics.
Final Verdict: 8.8 – Buy!