Oliver #3 // Review
A young man is chased through a downpour by faceless authorities. He doesn’t know why they’re after him. He probably wouldn’t want to know what they would do with him if they ever caught-up with him, but he’s not thinking about that as they chase him. All he’s thinking about is getting away from them as he makes it through the third issue of the series named after him. Oliver rushes through a very atmospheric third chapter written by Gary Whitta with art by Darick Robertson and colors by Diego Rodriguez. A major early turning point in the series feels every bit as ominous as it should be in a surprisingly satisfying suspense-based issue.
The authorities had been tipped to the existence of “hybrid” Oliver. They’re after him now as the rain comes down in sheets in a dystopian London. There’s a helicopter that’s been dispatched. Soldiers appear ready for any kind of resistance. They pursue with automatic weapons in gas masks Those who have been taking care of Oliver need to act or they may be in danger as well, but Oliver may prove to be capable of much more than simply running away when he turns to face those who have come to get him.
Whitta places a lot of trust in Robertson with this issue. An issue without much more than a hundred words of text in it relies quite heavily on the artist to deliver the entirety of the story. The action is framed quite well within the confines of the script, though. It’s a very simple suspense that’s being brought to the page here. The action and the atmosphere would have been slowed down considerably by a more assertive presence of dialogue or narration. Any series that thrives on suspense needs an issue like this, though and Whitta seems to understand that in a very faced-paced third chapter of Oliver.
Oliver is essentially running in the rain for the first ten pages of the issue. There isn’t much else going on aside from the slow, marching presence of the ominous authorities in their heavy-duty tactical combat gear. In the wrong hands, an issue like this could come across dull and breezy, but Roberston and Rodriguez conjure a desperate, maniacal run through a heavy downpour that is so atmospheric that one can practically smell the rain, sweat and blood. The rain covering everything outside as Oliver is being chased at night feels so totally oppressive. It’s pretty rare that an art team manages to make a force of nature feel quite this compelling. Close the book and there is the visceral need to towel-off and find some place to get warm. It’s a very atmospheric issue.
There might have been ways of making Oliver’s sudden realization of his capabilities feel like a bit more of a revelation by giving the physical aggression and brutality in a more graphic rendering, but the combination of elements here deliver a much-needed jolt of adrenaline to a series that has been mulling around in the shadows of tension thus far.