Cemetery Beach #4
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Jason Howard
Issue #4 of Cemetery Beach keeps the story moving but nonetheless feels like a step down. Grace and Mike get closer to their means of escaping the crazed world they’re trapped on. But unbeknownst to them, their pursuers already have a way of stopping them. Cemetery Beach #4’s major development is the introduction of Drum, a secessionist nation within the colony with a penchant for sky ships and percussion instruments. While the Drum seem like interesting antagonists, they’re a little too normal compared to the previous issue’s nightmarish outerfamily. With a little work, you could swap the two issues and it’d create a better sense of escalation.
Cemetery Beach #4 does have its moments. The opening with the president and his chief scrambling to stop the protagonists establishes the circumstances well. It also takes place in a church, a setting that Jason Howard has some fun with. A stain glassed window depicting a space suited Jesus succinctly encapsulates Cemetery Beach’s tone. It introduces some other fun visuals, such as an aerial submarine and its living ammunition. As always, there’s a great sense of motion to the chase scenes and the designs are the right mix of absurd and off-putting to match the tone. This might be the weakest issue yet but it still has a lot going for it, mostly thanks to Howard’s visuals.
Even if the events feels misplaced, this issue does manage to adequately move the plot forward. It fleshes out Mike and Grace’s dynamic in an important if small way. Regardless of the pacing issues, Drum is an entertaining addition and it helps make Cemetery Beach’s world feel larger. It escalates the situation by involving a third party that has the means and motive to pursue the protagonists just as much as the authorities do. The issue also redefines said authorities’ role in the story, as it has given a previously reactive force a new sense of agency.
While Cemetery Beach has maintained most of its momentum, it’s beginning to struggle with this issue. However, the book reads like it was “written for the trade,” so it suffers when put in a more incremental format. The excess of quickly resolved cliffhangers is another one. Even then, Warren Ellis and Jason Howard are doing enough right with Cemetery Beach that this is easy to excuse.
Cemetery Beach #4
Cemetery Beach #4 slows down the endless chase but there's no reason to think it won't pick up again.