Oct 5, 2007

Comic Review: Left On Mission #4

After suffering some of the unfortunate delays that seem a given with indy comic publishing, BOOM! StudiosLeft On Mission #4 finally hit comic shops last week with no loss of momentum whatsoever. Issue 3 was primarily an interlude in the action to focus on character development through a lengthy flashback. Number 4 thrusts those characters, in whom we’re now more emotionally invested than before, right back into the thick of it, guns (literally) blazing. It also features the return of one of the more compelling supporting characters, the ambitious, possibly psychopathic Agent Painter.

Reactivated CIA agent Eric Westfall has tracked his former flame, Emma (now gone rogue, though possibly for noble and topical reasons) to Morocco. Like in the best spy movies, writer Chip Mosher, artist Francesco Francavilla and colorist Martin Thomas (whose contributions still add immeasurably) take some time to let us explore this exotic setting. This has been a particular strength of this series since Issue 1, and once again Francavilla manages to evoke another well-selected thrilling location in beautiful detail. He gives us the visual, and Mosher gives us the smells, through Westfall’s instructive dialogue to Painter. Together, the creators do a great job of putting the reader in the heart of North Africa.

Westfall demonstrates some handy tradecraft with all the finesse of Michael Weston, allowing a potentially explosive transaction to play out. Each party believes themselves to be in command of the situation, which Francavilla sets up very nicely with a two-page splash providing a fish-eye view of all the participants and their rooftop sniper backup. The story still churns along at a very brisk pace, but Mosher understands the importance of the set-up. From conveying a great sense of place to constructing a believable playing field for the eventual action to unfold upon, each issue of Left On Mission builds to a satisfying climax and another cliffhanger ending. Like most comic book miniseries, the story will probably read best when collected together in trade paperback (which it will be this December), but it’s also the rare modern comic that delivers the goods with each individual issue as well. Fans of Burn Notice and The Bourne Ultimatum will find a lot to like here.

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