April 13, 2010

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Echo Volume 2

Written by Terry Moore
Illustrated by Terry Moore
Abstract Studios

Julie and Dillon continue to run from the quasi-military authorities that seek to bring Julie in. But can they hide in an age where even a disposable cell phone is trackable? As the free agent Ivy digs deeper into the mysteries surrounding Moon Lake, another affected person enters the fray, with devastating effect. Whom should Julie trust, provided she lives long enough to do so?

This set of issues picks up the pace considerably, eliminating one of the biggest problems I had with the first volume. It also moves things out from the relationship-heavy pages into an action-based comic. That helps to keep it apart from Strangers in Paradise, too. The whole feel is a lot less derivative this time, and that makes me happy.

As a matter of fact, due to some helpful recapping, there's really no reason to read Volume One at all to start things. This is a far more compelling read, and you don't miss much in terms of the storyline. If you're a completist, you'll feel a bit lacking, but I don't think most readers would know the difference.

There are several personal moments in the book that show Moore's hand at writing characters. Julie comments on Dillon's help and her unique body language and Ivy is another in a long line of strong Moore female protagonists. As I said in my review of the first volume, if you love Terry Moore, you'll love this series, as his signature style is all over the place.

I think this volume was more what I was expecting when I picked up the last trade. It has the Terry Moore signature touches, such as pretty women and snappy dialog that feels natural despite the oddity of the circumstances, but doesn't feel like a clone. Thanks to learning more about the suit and giving us foes on multiple fronts, I felt drawn into the tale in a way that I wasn't before this. Julie's dual nature due to the suit is coming out in full force, and that's a mystery I want to solve.

In addition, Ivy, our female heavy, is given a new layer of depth by showing she may not be playing for he bad guys after all. Or is she? Her actions are conflicting, and while that also echoes back to Strangers in Paradise a bit, it makes the plot a lot more interesting. She's getting into Julie's head, and that lets us get into Julie's head, too. And the more we see of it, the less I feel like she's connected to Francine.

The action moves a lot faster, as I noted above, but it's still pretty typical for a plot like this. Our protagonists are on the run, fleeing an evil corporation. There's really nothing new there, but at least this time we're not in danger of falling asleep watching Julie bumble her way through. She and Dillon are at least trying to do something, and their interactions with Ivy give the whole thing an extra layer it did not before.

I do wonder how Moore is going to handle a more action-driven story. His characters tend to be somewhat stiff, and I can't imagine him drawing a protracted battle scene. Ivy is supposed to be very angry at one point, but she hardly looks steamed, especially compared to her other poses i the story. He does some nice work with camera angles and his details are impeccable. I just don't know that he's the best person to illustrate an action-adventure tale with so much potential for science fiction. I guess we'll see.

Overall, I thought Echo Volume 2 was a big improvement on the first, and not just because it flowed more smoothly. We end on a big cliffhanger, and I'll be looking forward to see where this goes. It's not overly original, at least not yet, but I think it's worth looking at, especially if you like Moore's other comics. In my opinion, though, I'd start here instead of at Volume 1.