The first issue of Nathan Edmonson’s Dancer blew me away by taking the writers technical approach to action, applying it to a gritty genre style story and then twisting at the last minute deep into the realm of science fiction with the revelation of clones. The second continued the streak of surprises by simply explaining these sci-fi elements away as if they were commonplace occurrence; a similarly daring if somewhat less satisfying surprise. This third outing though takes the best parts of both prior issues and stretches them across the breadth of the entire book: it’s essentially a series of Edmonson’s trademark thought-out action sequences, complete with state of the art tech and tactics, strung together with the through-line of taking on oneself and the impossibility inherent in that action. There was so much promise and potential in that pilot issue and here we really start to see Edmonson deliver on it and even with the highest of expectations it is impossible to be disappointed by what we get.
There is something so potent about setting a comic book story around snipers, the pacing of it suits the medium perfectly, more than any other kind of action. Fight scenes and gun battles are all about flow, seeing one blow blend into the next, the momentum shift that stems from a bad swing and the bodies in constant motion; comics can’t convey this, not really. They can pause at important moments and give you the gist, allowing you to fill the gaps in with your imagination, but this is something of a compromised depiction. Sniper battles however are all about stillness and pauses, their power is in the waiting to pounce and this is something that the book is able to display without issue; especially in this issue, wherein we watch the two clones cat and mouse across the city, each trying to think ahead of the other though they both think exactly alike.
As much of this motion is dependent on the art of Nic Klein as it is the writing of Edmonson, he ultimately determines the pacing and position of the players during the action; a particularly difficult task given that the action mostly takes place between the panels. He has proven himself time and time again to be capable of executing classy action though and I have said as such, what stood out to me this issue was the way in which he was able to accurately evoke the emotions of the characters in and amongst all that action. He doesn’t need to stop or slow down a scene to show us this, one simple expression tells it all and there is quite a bit or turmoil to be found since the surprise in the plot this month is the impotence of all sides, no one is able to take control of their own fates, no plans come together but somehow this is more satisfying for us than if they had.
So in short, if you like action but don’t want to read about another really big guy beating on aliens or robots, if you want something with grit that is still stylish, If you want to be thrilled, chilled and utterly entertained then buy this book. It’s building to something big and I can’t wait to see just what that is.