Travelling Man's Blog

Review: The Fuse Volume 1: The Russia Shift by Travelling Man

Written by Antony Johnston

Art by Justin Greenwood

Colours by Shari Chankhamma

Lettering by Ed Brisson

Published by Image



22,000 miles above the Earth someone is dead. The crime scene is Midway City aboard The Fuse, a five mile long space station in Earth orbit. The victim is unknown. The cops investigating it are Ralph Dietrich, fresh in from Earth and Klem Ristovych a woman who’s seen it all. Except this.

Every element of this book appealed to me going in. I’m a sucker for good police procedurals, I love near future SF and I wanted to be a write from the moment I saw the opening episode of Star Cops.

Go youtube it.

Also get off my lawn.

Also, please, I like you people, skip the theme tune.

You’re welcome

Also you’re still on my lawn.

So I went into this book with high expectations. It exceeded them, massively. Johnston has set up a world that feels lived in and thick with history but defiantly alive and exciting. Midway is Baltimore in orbit, a sprawling metropolis of people, violence and accidental cruelty. These streets may be pressurised but they’re still mean and mean in very human ways. The crime at the centre of this first story is logical, nasty and driven by a combination of emotion and simple human nature. It’s a tragedy wrapped in a puzzle and seeing Dietrich and Klem unravel it is a pleasure.

Greenwood’s art is a big part of that and his character design is exemplary. Dietrich is a precision-sculpted cop with a little too much enthusiasm and Klem steals every panel she’s in, a white-haired, white faced old lady with zero patience, a wicked sense of humour and a death stare like no other. The scenes where they’re spitballing the cases are especially fun as is a repeated sequence between Kem and another character I won’t spoil.

Midway is just as much a character as the cops, and Chankhamma’s remarkable colour work does an excellent job of showing how different the various areas are. You get a great idea of the sheer scale of the place too, and in turn that shows just how good a job Brisson does on lettering. This is a vast station and a case with vast density of information and it’s all not only on the page but very easy to find your way around.

So, let’s talk about them for a moment. It’s easy to create a double act that’s entertaining. It’s very difficult to create a double act that’s fun. Klem and ‘Marlene’ are really fun. The friction between them is both realistic and often very funny and the different things they bring to the investigation are cleverly explored. Klem’s history on station is both a vital part of the story and I suspect the future of the book whilst Dietrich’s fresh eyes and enthusiasm are a politely subversive influence on her. They’re also, possibly, a mask for an agenda all his own but as of this story that doesn’t matter. What does is that this is a brilliantly designed and execute murder mystery with a couple of immensely entertaining leading characters.   One of the best books of the year and my new favourite cop show.

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[…] also go to Pretty Deadly, Bitch Planet, Captain Marvel, Archer & Armstrong, Zero, Umbral and The Fuse. All of them bear out just how clever, innovative and fun a year this was for comics. If […]

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