Banjax #3 // Review
Liard Mason doesn’t have much time left. His body is broken, bruised, and being engulfed with cancer. Laird Mason alias Banjax, therefore, is on a mission to spill as much criminal blood as possible before his body finally succumbs. After a brief delay between issues, Banjax is back for more skull-crushing action. Series writer Rylend Grant along with artist Fabio Alves, colorist Edson Ferreira and letterer HdE deliver another hard-hitting must-read issue. From a series that needs to be added to any pull list. Knowing that his time is running out, Banjax visits an old friend with clairvoyant type abilities, in the hopes of knowing if his mission is a righteous one. With Gyro’s Cerberus teams hot on his trail, Banjax is running out of options, allies and time.
After taking a beating at the hands of Cerberus the likes of which he hasn’t seen in decades, Banjax receives help from the most unlikely of people. Providing Banjax with vital intel, this new ally will change the course of Banjax’s mission on the criminal element he is trying to eradicate.
Issue three returns to the ultra-violent format with small heart-wrenching moments that made issue one a smashing standout. Chapter two, while also great, weaved a more psychological narrative for Gyro that really expanded his character arc. This can all be attributed to series writer Rylend Grant. Grant introduces two new characters in this issue that both play vital roles, although only one is given a name. This seemed like an odd choice as the woman with the clairvoyant type power is quite important and has a long history with Banjax that she eludes to. There were also a few choice words that may require readers to look them up as they don’t seem to be everyday vernacular. That delivery may have taken away some of the impact. Banjax has become known for its unbridled violence and its penchant for profanity. Issue three, however, seems to push the profanity almost to the point of farce, and seems out of character for some of the people of this issue. This is a bit disappointing though shouldn’t deter readers though as the end result is another stellar story from Grant.
Accompanying Grant’s opera of violence is a terrific creative team that continues to make Banjax a visual treat for readers. Artist Fabio Alves fills more than half this issue with bone-shattering panel after panel. Alves is really able to let loose in this issue as Banjax takes on a squad of Cerberus soldiers in an absolutely bloody battle that quite literally ends with a bang. Quite noticeable is the deterioration of Banjax’s trademark helmet. At the start of the book, a bullet dent can be seen on the forehead of the helmet. Later on, during his massive fight, an enemy punch shatters the mouth of the helmet. Blood spilling from his mouth, with a devilish grin on his mouth. This is how Banjax is portrayed through most of this issue. Edson Ferreira’s colors help make the impact of each panel that much more powerful. Rich crimson blood flowing from a clenched jaw filled with bright white teeth. Alves continues using black and gray colors for flashback panels that give them a great noir feel. He even adds the color red in certain panels to give them an even bigger impact, which is a fantastic touch. Banjax has become known for heavy narration throughout the panels. Lair Mason’s personal thoughts litter the page, though are very easy to read thanks to letterer HdE. In bold yellow color and topped with the signature X that marks Banjax’s mask. HdE gives readers all the information they need without having to strain their eyes. He also delivers some fantastic lettering during the action panels, including one from a baseball bat that is sickeningly satisfying.
While issue three returns to the action and great storytelling of chapter one, the excess verbiage and the out of character profanity shouldn’t deter readers. While this may be a bit of a misstep, Banjax and the creative team behind it have a bright future. With a story that looks to only get better as the story of Lair Mason’s one-man crusade continues.