Engineward, Vault's latest sci-fi epic from writer George Mann and artist Joe Eisma, is set to run for 12-issues, 2020's equivalent of a decade-long ongoing series. Does this mythology-heavy comic have the steam for such a long run?
Engineward #1 impressed with Morning Glories' Joe Eisma's artwork, Michael Garland's colors, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou's inventive lettering, which used different colors to create a visual language that spoke to the delivery of certain words and sounds. The script by George Mann was a decent read, but it was heavy on mythology and light on character development, with dialogue weighed down by exposition. All of that remains true of this second issue, but unfortunately a new problem arises: very, very little happens. There's a conflict at a funeral, where we learn more about this world's version of funerals than we do about any of the characters. There's a speech from Leo, one of the Zodiac-inspired Celestials, which echoes what we already found out about these pseudo-deities last issue: they have no intention of helping the people they claim to care about. Ichabod is sick, but we don't know enough about him to invest in any way. It's clear that Mann is passionate about this world's mythology, which is great for a writer creating a sci-fi and fantasy world, but the lack of restraint in the way the script focuses purely on the mythology leaves no room for character development. Unfortunately, just two issues in, Engineward is becoming the last thing a story with this set-up should be: boring.
The art team continues to crush it, and it's great to see Eisma on another indie series to watch him create. Morning Glories was largely a drama, which Eisma handled beautifully, turning compelling conversations into equally visually compelling scenes. Eisma's character design adds layers to Engineward, which could certainly pay off once the characters are given the time to shine. Otsmane-Elhaou's lettering continues to be a major highlight of the series and, given more to do with more compelling character interaction in the script, his unique color-driven language would be even more of an interesting feature.
Engineward is at a crossroads. If readers are going to invest, they need characters to care about and a story that moves things forward rather than highlighting what they already knew in the first issue. If the writing improves, the set-up, art, and lettering have what it takes to make this a must-read series.