The Returning #2 (Boom!)

CREDIT: Boom! Studios

Rating: 4.5/5 – Something Strange is Happening When People Die.
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.

The premise of this book is that something is happening when most people have a Near Death Experience (NDE) that causes them to become Changers.  Changers seem like normal people but then all of sudden they’ll become extremely violent and murder people for no reason.  Murder rates are way up all over the world and there is a hysteria of prejudice, not completely unfounded, against people that have been injured and are suspected of being a Changer.  (Note: an NDE is when someone medically dies for a short period of time but then is brought back to life.  You may have heard of someone “dying on the operating table” and being brought back by the doctors).

Jason Starr is telling the story of Beth, a bright high school student who dies for 5 minutes after a car crash but is saved.  Has she changed?  She doesn’t think she has, but how does she know?  Do some people change and others do not?  Why?  What is causing this whole phenomenon?  Beth finds out just how fast her world can be turned completely upside down and friends turn on her when they fall under the influence of prejudice and supposition, a nice allegory for the treatment of minority groups where prejudicial treatment is based on fear and paranoia more than on actual fact.

Questions abound and answers are few, but there are hints aplenty as Starr weaves his tale.  We’re half way into the 4 issue series and there should still be plenty of time to jump on board and pick up the 1st 2 issues; this is a tight story with plenty of mystery that is well worth reading.  It passes my most important test: It’s different.  Sure, it shares surface elements with other stories that involve people coming back to life, but if you look a little deeper it’s all new, and being a completely different book from everything else I’m reading is what I love!

Andrea Mutti’s art does a really nice job of conveying the suspense in Starr’s story.  His portrayal of body language and facial expressions brought the characters to life in the story for me.   I’ll add in my appreciation for the color art by Vladimir Popov, dark as befits the tone of the story, but not obscuring any of the detail in Mutti’s art, Popov captures a nice balance that enhances the story.

The Returning is another great mini-series from Boom!  The story drew me right in starting with #1 and continues to do so in this strong second issue.  Starr’s engaging characters and deftly executed pacing keeps me turning pages until I hit the story beat at the end that has me hooked into the next issue.  A perfect example of how to write a monthly comic that will ultimately also work as a collection.  Well worth the effort to track down at a local comic shop and read, either in the issues as they are coming out, or to pick up the trade when the story is complete in a couple of months.  For my own part, I’m eagerly waiting for #3 so I can find out what happens to Beth and what the ultimate mystery is behind the Changers.

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
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