Rafael Albuquerque’s miniseries passion project reaches the halfway point with Ei8ht #3. The book has successfully come from being an interesting though empty time travel story and finally into a high concept pulp action adventure and if it can stick the landing it’s bound to become one of the most enjoyable comics of the year.
The story so far follows Joshua, a would-be assassin sent back in time to murder a Nazi officer. Naturally things have gone awry and Joshua finds himself the Meld, the place where missing things go throughout all space and time. He’s swept up into a larger plot involving a local warlord who’s amassed an army made up of Roman legionaries, dinosaurs, and even Joshua’s target. With little time left, Joshua must help the free peoples of the Meld. Mike Johnson writes the scripts and though he’s not a stand out name, he does a surprisingly good job maintaining reader investment in the story. There’s no moment where the plot transitions which is awkward or disjointed, an impressive feat as the narrative jumps between past, present, future, and Meld. Some of the characters, especially the Tyrant are at times thin, though the shortcomings are made up for with the Meld’s amazing mixture of peoples and items from various periods of time. Sometimes children riding dinosaurs is enough to justify a script that doesn’t always pop. That being said, the issue’s ending makes a surprising turn which implies the story is set to tie up much nicer in the next two issues and reveals some unexpected interpersonal connections.
Just about any flaws Ei8ht’s story has are easily made up for with the artwork of Rafael Albuquerque. Albuquerque is one of the best artists in the business. Often confined to the horror genre, this comic gives him room to stretch as he draws modern military equipment, sabretooth cats, medieval camps, Roman armor, pterodactyls and never missing a beat. Albuquerque, as always, uses his colors wisely in this book, utilizing them to convey what takes place when but not being bottled by his own convention. The style might also be hinting at some deeper connections behind the foggy history of the Meld itself.
While at first jumping on this miniseries seemed a gamble, Mike Johnson and Rafael Albuquerque are creating a fun science fiction romp. The best comparison for this series is that it’s like the 1982 Conan the Barbarian film. The story is nothing to write home about but the story is framed excellently. While there’s very little to leave the audience in shock and awe, it’s a dependable and fun enough romp to give a preemptive seal of approval for the next two issues. Definitely pick this one up.