From the people at Dark Horse comes a five-part miniseries called Ei8ht. This story is somewhat of an abnormality, coming from the mind of Rafael Albuquerque who typically contributes to the comic book world via pencils and inks. This time he has taken up the role of storyteller alongside writer Mike Johnson. What they’ve produced is a time travel story taking place in the past, present, and future; starring an amnesiac chrononaut by the name of Joshua who’s found himself stranded in a place outside of time. It’s an interesting mystery with a somewhat lacking central character, but enticing enough in concept to make up the slack.
The problem most with find with Ei8ht is how its story functions as a double-edged sword. Trying to convey time travel in a narrative, the kind with time loops and grandfather paradoxes, is often difficult to show. Top that off with a, to be fair, clichéd, far flung traveler with memory loss and initially, this series can be a tough sell. Very little detail about Joshua is given beyond his mission to perform a time based assassination (not the obvious one, but close,) and he’s given little personification beyond a likely tragic past. The issue tries to make up for this by introducing the Meld, a place beyond past, present, and future, inhabited by savage tribes and dinosaurs. As much as that feels like sacrilege, yeah, indulging in weird pulpy sci-fi/fantasy aesthetic can go a long way. It looks cool. That’s not to say the generic qualities of Joshua are easy to forgive, but it’s something. That’s the problem with trying to talk about a story that is clearly going for a mystery angle where much of the information is denied to the audience. Chances are this story will read much better in trade.
In the art department, one of the big selling points is hands down Rafael Albuquerque’s pencils and inks. Albuquerque’s one of the best regular artists in the industry with a wide range, be it gruesome horror or lighthearted superhero romps and has a knack for rich facial expressions. He also makes clever use of color template to help distinguish time periods for the audience. Green is the past, purple is the present, blue is the future, and tan is whatever in the world the Meld is. It’s a smart move and delivered nicely in the first page in, but at the same times sacrifices the use of other colors to distinguish landscapes. For example, the Meld is described as a desert in-story, but the use of blue on figures makes it unclear if said desert is hot and arid or freezing and cold. The issue only shows the Meld and the future, so how this will play out with all four locations is iffy.
Though the price tag is a little much to justify, Ei8ht does get a stamp of recommendation but with some hold ups. It’s trapped in the problem that often befalls time travel stories where it ends up stumbling over the plot. The protagonist is on the bland side, but much of his failings are made up for with a cool barbarian setting. Albuquerque’s art is always a delight to see, even if it’s a bit restrained. He uses colors to differentiate time periods which both helps and hinders the story. The issue ends with a fun enough stinger to make one want to read more, but the issue is a rough first act.