"Breathless #4" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Black Mask Studios
Written by Pat Shand
Illustrated by Renzo Rodriguez
Colored by Mara Jayne Carpenter
Lettered by Jim Campbell
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on September 5th, 2018
Scout has had enough. After a rival pharmaceutical company killed almost everyone she worked with to get its claws on a possible cure for asthma, she's taking matters into her own hands. Aided by a small group of monsters, Scout is bringing the fight to the top and she's pulling no punches.
You can feel Scout's desperation as she prepares for this assault. She holds many cards and knows when to play each one to make them hurt the most. There's also no mercy in her eyes. This is a woman that's been pushed around for too long. It's interesting to see this side of her as she reaches a breaking point that makes her no different from some of the monsters she dissects on a regular basis. Scout's actions scare her friend, Grace-Eisley, to the point where their relationship is thrown into disarray.
There's an uneasy standoff between Scout and the pharmaceutical leaders in a back alley. The executives want to do anything they can to keep this under wraps. That includes not just the cure, but the fact that monsters exist in the first place. That can change the world. They're just as desperate and ruthless as Scout.
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Artist Renzo Rodriguez takes the cake in Breathless with his incredible monster designs. There are a handful of new ones in this issue and some returning favorites. Rodriguez creates this otherworldly quality to the supernatural creatures. There are elements of real world animals, but they're mutated and unnatural.
The springheels are a great examples of this. There is a passing resemblance to an armadillo or maybe a small kangaroo, but that connection to the family tree is pretty distant. These are rough, scaly creatures with more teeth than brains. There are times where they're almost cute, but then they open their jaws to expose those massive, sharp teeth and that thought goes right out the window.
Letterer Jim Campbell adds to the monstrous quality of these creatures with unique word balloons. These are rougher and more jagged than those of the humans, like speech is not something that comes naturally to them. The font is also bolder, giving the impression of a louder, deeper voice.
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When the action heats up, it bleeds into the gutters of the pages. Rodriguez puts a ragged, violent border around the panels, amplifying the intensity of the scene. It's a subtle touch that works wonders. Colorist Mara Jayne Carpenter ties it all together with so much blood. This is a real highlight as it stands out in a bright red against the grim and gritty texture of the alley.
As frightening as these creatures are, Scout's actions are even more chilling. She's fueled by rage and it's not unjustified. It's insane that she has to pay to live, struggling to make ends meet so she can afford the medication that will allow her to breathe properly. These executives are the physical embodiment of that injustice.
Breathless brings up some great points and drops us into a world of possibilities. This final issue wraps things up a little too quickly. I would have liked a little more space to flesh this out, although as it stands, we do get a complete story. The status quo is shifted greatly by the end of this tale and it's something I'd love to see explored further. Just imagine what other monsters are out there and how they can be incorporated into this crazy world.