If feels like Strayer and Mala have been on the run for a few issues, be it from advancing enemies on sleps or from giant crazed Kashas. The frantic energy has carried over from issue to issue, building towards...something. And that something just so happens to occur in this issue, and it's ****ing wonderful.
We finally get a brief taste of Mala's origins, and it's pretty damn cool: as a child she was saved from her burning, destroyed village to be raised in a monastic setting, training her for a greater purpose. When the time comes, she is set to be one with a symbiotic fluid, granting her magic-like powers. Is its root really in the supernatural, or an evolved computer fluid? What IS it? Questions for another day.
Juan Gedeon's art really hits a high point in this issue. His frenetic action is just as compelling as his inactive scenes. It has really evolved, making use of somewhat blocky lines and minimalist facial features to convey full emotions: Mala's are especially on great display as she switches from frightened to worried to angered. His art is especially effective when paired with Tamra Bonvillain's colors, which really cause the images to pop off the page. Her work in the opening with Mala's history is especially powerful.
And we get to the "something" that's been building for several issues: a nasty ol' fight with Kruegen and the pursuing Emergent soldiers. It's HIGHLY worth the wait, as Mala finally cuts loose and Strayer meets someone worth his time.
Justin Jordan's dialogue is traditionally pithy and rapid-fire, with a grade-A use of sarcasm. It's no different here, with Strayer running his mouth during the action, putting the reader at ease that he's got everything under control, although Kruegen provides a surprise that will leave the reader begging for more answers.
And then Mala gets to really access her powers in an awesome display of energy; she takes out half the troop sent to stop her and Strayer, and she even sends Kruegen over the edge of a cliff (it's actually quite satisfying - it got a little tiresome seeing her in constant need of defending)
This book is really shaping up to be a story with a real scale to it - there are so many questions left unanswered, and with every revelation the reader only wants to know more. Jordan has crafted something really unique here, an epic that has a rich history waiting to be unfurled. The first arc may be over, and I can't wait to see where this is going to lead.