If one recalls, Ei8ht #1 was the first issue of a five part miniseries created by Rafael Albuquerque and Mike Johnson. When the initial issue came out last month, it came up on the intriguing, but lacking side of the spectrum. The latest issue has hit the spinner racks, and it’s safe to say this book is set to be a fantastic science fiction romp.
The story so far follows an unnamed man who wakes up robbed of memories the Meld, a strange place outside of past, present, and future. He recalls his mission to travel to the past to execute a Nazi officer but clearly something’s gone awry. He’s taken captive by the inhabitants of the Meld while his time machine falls into the hand of a warlord called the Tyrant whose right hand man is none other than his target. This issue does a lot of legwork to improve Ei8ht’s story but all the while making it natural and compelling. Another story takes up following one Dr. Hamm from the present whose experiment gets him and a team of mercenaries trapped in prehistoric times. Meanwhile, the unnamed protagonist learns more about the Meld as his captor, Nila, sets plans against the Tyrant. While the series has still done very little to explain it’s bizarre setting, this issue makes massive strides in making the story compelling. There’s a greater sense of mystery beyond unnamed amnesiac hero waking up in the middle of nowhere. The Meld in particular is a fascinating setting as it appears as a bizarre mash up of various pulp sci-fi genres. That’s a running theme of this series so far as Albuquerque and Johnson cobble together a strange mythos weaved out of conspiracy theories and paranormal activity.
The art on Ei8ht is very much a big gamble. Albuquerque is a fantastic artist who can nail anything from uplifting teenager superheroics to blood stained horror. He handles the anachronological world he’s creating perfectly. Everything from dinosaurs to campy villains straight out of Conan work together. It’s impressive how much he makes the Meld feel like a realistic world despite defying all reason to exist. One of the big gimmicks of the book is how past, present, future, and Meld are expressed to the reader by colors. It’s fantastic for explaining when things are happening, though it runs the risk of limiting the color pallet. That being said, there’s not place that color feels lacking. There are other colors which are used to make important details stand out and there’s even a flashback which should break the conventions of this story, but is also saved by the colors.
While reservations were to be had last month when Ei8ht debuted, this issue more than makes up for them. Johnson and Albuquerque are working on a fantastic pulp sci-fi mash up that feels grounded in reality. There’s compelling mysteries to be had, and what’s to come next should be one wild ride.