Ballistic #2 from Black Mask Studios, by Adam Egypt Mortimer and Darick Robertson, has the not so envious task of following up issue one’s flawless debut. This review aims to be spoiler free as possible, but there are a few minor spoilers so be forewarned.
Like the first issue of Ballistic, Mortimer and Robertson put together a story that requires multiple readings, not because it’s inaccessible as much as there’s so many cool concepts to digest. Whether it’s the ideas Mortimer proposes in his writing or the deep layers to Robertson’s art, reading Ballistic is like listening to a Pink Floyd album remixed by Basement Jaxx.
The opening sequence is one of the many examples where this happens. How the world began changing and the eventual rise of Repo City is explained like an apocalyptic documentary done Tim Burton style with some fascinating footnotes included at the end of the story to make the collapse of civilization that more nuanced.
This nightmarish, and realistically reasoned future, gets the piss taken out of it quite quickly as Mortimer and Robertson remind you as belligerently as possible in the second page that Butch and Gun are on the run from John Q. Law. The sequence of panels Robertson uses for their literal flight from the law is a stunning chase that shows off his rare skills as a fluid visual storyteller.
Gun and Butch make their escape, but Butch knows that Gun has more than just drug withdrawals kicking in as he takes him to get checked out by the gun tech/drug dealer Crustco. This may be one of the most important parts of the story with the way it explains how a living weapon like Gun is created and how it perceives reality.
He also does more than just look cool (he also does more than just scare horses) with the way Mortimer and Robertson have crafted him into one of the most unusual and forceful characters created in all of comics. One of the best parts of Ballistic is Mortimer and Robertson’s ability to characterize him through colorful dialogue and expressions.
Just as much as this issue feels like it belongs to Gun, Butch works his way back into the story forcefully with his dimwittedness taking a backseat for a change as he makes one smart decision in a chain of failure. But this review is getting ahead of itself because there’s just too much risk of spoilage if it goes further.
I would also be remiss in not mentioning Diego Rodriguez’s contribution on coloring for Ballistic as a series. He strikes a perfect balance of color to this title, which is crucial with all of the bio-mimicry concepts and living aspects of the story. Rodriguez’s colors are a veritable rainbow for the petri dish that is Repo City.
Mortimer and Robertson come out guns blazing (making readers suck holocaust) with an outstanding second issue that goes into the deeper layers of storytelling at work. Ballistic sticks the landing with a 10, 10, 9.8 (from those spiteful Russians), 10, and a another 10 for another amazing issue that shows Mortimer and Robertson know no bounds when it comes to imagination.
You just need to get up off your duff or click a mouse and get a copy of Ballistic #2. Period. It’s in stores Wednesday, September 11th at your local comic shop or digitally through Black Mask’s website.