Dancer is a very small book, literally speaking it only has the three characters and the concept of every issue so far has simply been a continuation of the first ( the book numbers its pages as if it were already a trade, this month running from 67 through 90). So it staggers me how Nathan Edmondson somehow still manages to make each issue end with not just a cliffhanger but a seemingly seismic shift in the story.
There are no first page of the comic cop-outs ala old-school Batman and it’s not like the tale is being told in short, staccato bursts, boring for twenty pages before the cliffhanger comes. Each month it is a gripping read from the get go, filled with fantastically frenetic and yet cleverly choreographed action sequences, that is structured so eloquently as to flow flawlessly into these big beats and this month’s is perhaps the biggest yet.
Perhaps though I should step back a bit, from one end of the book to the other. I always loved the title that was chosen for this book; it’s distinct from those given to other action books and instantly depicts what it is that makes the content of this one just as different. That content though never quite justified it to me in a literal sense, at least not until now. Quinn is of course the dancer to which the title refers, but for the most part she hasn’t been the book’s major focus and so her ballerina background has barely been explored. There is though a stunning line of dialogue uttered on the second page ( or the sixty eighth) that perfectly interweaves the traits of her profession with the Sniper action at the core of the comic ( and a beautiful blood puddle reveal beside) and after that the whole thing made a lot more sense to me.
The real joy of this book though isn’t in whether or not it makes sense, but in what it makes your senses do and so much of that stems from the images. Nic Klein’s artwork is… I’m without the words to do it justice. From the terrific two-tone covers through the technical architecture of the single page setting splash and into the intriguing intricacies – like all of the characters, and a wolf, having panels in which their eyes flash green – his interiors are impossibly perfect. Artists are usually draftsmen, impressionists or pseudo-photographers, capable of either looking amazing or making their writer look like that. Klein though has all those bases covered, contradicting the usual comic rules with his brush while Edmondson does the same with his pen.
Together they’ve crafted a taut and thrilling action tale, one that is told so well it doesn’t need the clutter of arbitrary complications. One concept is enough for this comic; their execution forgoes that kind of excess. When theirs are the names above the title – whatever the title – something as simple as two similar men attempting to one up each other unsuccessfully becomes compelling as easily as small missteps do disaster; so the big step that they take at the end of this issue is almost unbearably exciting.
Part of me can’t wait to see where the story goes – presumably the titular tutu wearer will take lead position from here? – but like a good sniper I quiet that section and sit, waiting patiently; but if it’s for Dancer to make a misstep that I wait, then it seems I will be waiting a very long time indeed.