Barrier #5 Review: Not a Bad Ending, but This Story Deserved Better

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Oscar and Liddy try to use the alien creature they wrangled to negotiate with the beings who command the ship. This doesn't go quite how they planned, but something different happens. The aliens form a connection with Oscar and Liddy, and the three share their experiences and language. Is this enough to save our two wayward heroes?

Barrier #5 cover by Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente
Barrier #5 cover by Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente

Barrier #5 goes similarly to how I expected for the most part, and that's a bit disappointing. Despite the story's clever focus on language and the separations it can create, it takes some easy ways out with the sudden ability of the aliens to plug into Liddy and Oscar's heads.

I try not to make suggestions, but the story would have been more interesting if there weren't some magical and easy way for the aliens and our protagonists to connect.

That said, the tragedies of Oscar and Liddy's pasts are handles well and disturbingly visceral. Those were great sequences.

The ending is something of a joke. I don't mean that in the bad way; I think the ending is supposed to be an actual dark joke, but it undermines the themes somewhat. It may be setting up for a sequel, but the lack of closure it presents is also frustrating. The book may have been better had it ended a page or two before.

That said, the KFC joke right before the end is pretty solid.

Barrier #5 art by Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente
Barrier #5 art by Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente

Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente make it all look great once again. The alien's technology and biology are bizarre, colorful, and memorable. Our characters are distinct and expressive. The harsher scenes are given appropriate presentation. The art is probably the strongest part of this final issue.

Barrier #5 isn't bad, but it's not as smart as issues prior. The focus on language and strained connections across cultures is copped out upon. The ending is far from satisfying. Liddy and Oscar are still great characters, but you're left wanting better for them. The art is the biggest saving grace here, and it's why I can still give this book a recommendation, if a bit less enthusiastic than recommendations to prior installments. Feel free to check this one out, though.

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About Joshua Davison

Josh is a longtime super hero comic fan and an aspiring comic book and fiction writer himself. He also trades in videogames, Star Wars, and Magic: The Gathering, and he is also a budding film buff. He's always been a huge nerd, and he hopes to contribute something of worth to the wider geek culture conversation. He is also happy to announce that he is the new Reviews Editor for Bleeding Cool. Follow on Twitter @joshdavisonbolt.
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