After leaving the city of Parallax that was at “the beginning of time,” the Jolly Roger heads back to Cynosure, which they’re now considering home even though it’s still an incredibly dangerous place. When they return in issue #25, it seems like Ariosto, who was killed in the castle heist storyline a few issues ago, is now alive and waiting for them. They get lured into his castle and are eventually captured until the cavalry arrives to help and Ariosto is revealed to be a robot name Kalibos, whom Chris and her space marines have been hunting for a while. In issue #26, they fight him and he escapes. Feeling that she’s responsible for the fact that he’s still alive and out there–his survival has been a sore spot for the space marines–she gives Torin a last kiss and heads after him.
Now, I haven’t read beyond this issue, so I can’t tell you if this is the last time we see Chris in the series run (which will end with issue #34), but it looks like Ostrander wants to continue to throw some curve balls at the audience by saying both hello and goodbye to characters while continuing to have Torin navigate his complicated life. The romance with Chris had started a few months before and was a pretty good ‘ship, but I have to say that there wasn’t much beyond a couple of scenes and I think that Crayne and Tamara had gotten more scenes than the ones they had.
Speaking of which, Tamara’s kind of sidelined again, and that’s kind of a shame. When Chris was introduced, it seemed like the two of them would have one of those “reluctant allies” relationships, where they work together but don’t get along personally. I mean, Tamara seemed to gristle at being called “Tammi.” But since the first couple of issues, it hasn’t been spotlighted very much at all. And it’s not until Torrin’s pact with Morrigan comes up that we have to remember how high the stakes are for everyone in the crew, as Kalibos tries to control his mind and tries to force him to remove the necklace that Morrigan placed around his neck. Doing so would kill the women, and he fights through with his warrior spirit and then is able to nearly kill Kalibos.
At least the action is really solid, as is the artwork. Hilary Barta is doing most of the work (with Tim Truman listed as “breakdowns” or “continuity”) and they blend very well.
I have to say that issue #24, which I haven’t talked about yet, wasn’t my favorite. It’s a tribute to Milton Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates strip, with the crew taking a slight detour to Earth; specifically, China in 1938. I’m not familiar with the original strip or Caniff’s work, and I see how this book can be used for such a tribute, but it seemed gratuitous and the look of the Asian characters approached caricature at times. Had the book started to go back to its “Lost in Space” direction like it seemed to be after the destruction of Earth, I would have been more for this because it would have meant a bunch of different planets and stories and a really huge exploration of the universe in which it exists. But since we got back to Cynosure so quickly … well … like I said, a bit gratuitous.
In the grand scheme of things, this was a slight blemish on a run of comics that is still a lot of fun. We break from the regular storyline for a full issue starring “The Black Flame”, which was the running backup feature, and then we’ll head into the last five or six issues before I decide to render my ultimate verdict.