May 12, 2010

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Echo Volume 3

Written by Terry Moore
Illustrated by Terry Moore
Abstract Studios

Things get worse for Julie as the mysterious alloy that's forming an ever-closer relation to her body starts to become a danger even in defense. As she tries to get the bottom of things, a most unlikely source may provide her with the answers she needs.

Meanwhile, the backers of the project that made the suit ramp up their efforts to get back what's theirs, at any cost. With family in the line of fire, can Julie manage to save herself--and maybe even the world, too?

The further I read into Echo, the more I like it. I still think the first trade was rather weak, but these last two collections of issues have more than made up for it. (That's why I generally make it a rule to give anything well-regarded several trades to hook me.) Moore is ramping up the action with every issue, and his ability to show that action on the page is improving as well. With this set of issues, we're seeing less of the static Moore character poses and more actual action.

I also like the way that the suit is being presented as doing more than it appeared on first blush. It gives the story a few extra wrinkles, though we're still in pretty standard woman versus evil corporation mode. The difference for me is that while the first trade felt extremely paint by numbers, we are now seeing the usually excellent More character work take this idea and run with it. That's what I was looking for right away, and didn't get. Now that it's here, I'm ready to enjoy this ride for as long as it lasts.

Julie, Dillon, and Ivy are also starting to get their own, distinct personalities. They started off feeling too much like people from Strangers in Paradise, but now they have their own agendas and ideas, though the strange relationship angle still seems to be hanging around. (I can't help but keep David-Katchoo-Francine in the back of my mind when thinking of Dillon-Julie-Annie and how the revelations in this trade will play out.) A big part of this is Ivy, the wild card of the story that may or may not want to help Julie solve her problem. Because our three (four?) main characters are all working at cross purposes, I see a lot of room for conflict and interesting storytelling, and that, more than an original plot, is what I look for in a story.

I don't want to give away too much, but I thought the revelations about what the suit was capable of was a nice twist that I wasn't expecting. It makes sense that a corporation might not want to deal with the ramifications that are hinted at here, and gives a logical reason for the over-the-top reactions in relation to the original destruction of the suit and the desire to get it back. On the negative side, it does give us several one-dimensional bad guys, and I wish they had a little more depth. It would not surprise me one bit, however, if we get that depth soon.

Most of this volume is still focused on the chasing of Julie, both by Ivy and later by the folks at Henri. It's not all cat and mouse, however, as we also get the background on the suit I mentioned above, and biker Dan Backer is trying to learn the truth of what killed his friends. Plus, Julie's sister gets some extended scenes that are both funny and heartbreaking. I like the way that Moore weaves in little details about all the supporting players without it feeling forced or holding back the main story. These little vignettes look like they're going somewhere, and seeing how they play out over the next several trades is going to be fun.

Though the panel structure is improving, telling such a vivid action tale is not Moore's artistic strength. He's still a bit too stiff when things are exploding and I don't think you'd ever describe the movement of his characters as fluid. That's more noticeable here because of the story. I also question why we need to have so many revealing moments, but since Moore draws woman tastefully, it's not as big of a problem as it could be. I really do like that Moore can draw women who are both extremely attractive and also look normal.

Almost all of us have read a story like Echo before. However, the longer this story goes on, the more Terry Moore adds his character touches to it and makes it a compelling read. We have just enough mystery to go with the personal angst to make it a great read. If you weren't sure after the first volume, stick with it. I know I'm glad I did. I can't wait to read more of this story when the fourth trade is released. It's definitely on my watch list going forward.