Writers: Justin Jordan, Nikki Ryan / Artist: Morgan Beem / Image Comics
“Tiny hands” jokes and all, the Trump-esque villain in The Family Trade finally captures Jessa after her first significant hand-to-hand battle with his minions. Until this point, Jessa’s collisions with danger typically resulted in minimal fight and maximal flight, but this time she’s cornered and does what we all hoped she’d eventually do: square up. The success here is her swagger, knowing that she’s going down but willing to scrap anyway, odds be damned. That’s the stuff heroes are made of, and it’s the most endeared we’ve been towards Jessa in a short while. The battle is fast paced, much like the rest of this issue that accelerates our plot in a quick, determined direction.
Mr. Berghardt wants “the book,” but is shown to be the dumb, braggadocios leader type who is bolstered by smarter subordinates who share his evil but willfully fall in line to his bluster. When confronted by him, Jessa isn’t afraid, but rather goes through her characteristic inner-planning on how she’ll get out of yet another bleak situation so she can figure out the rest later. Meanwhile, on the Family’s side, Jessa’s big boss is beginning to understand the situation after being puzzled by Ri’s riddles — a part of the story that is somewhat strange, if not altogether unnecessary. If Ri is meant to be the charming sidekick, the woman in the chair, she may need clearer motivations to keep her errant charms more focused and relevant than superfluous bantering.
Artistically, the series continues to capture scenes in close quarters, which works well for the action scenes but continues to discount the series’ most awesome resource in its city-on-the-sea setting. We barely see any of the Float again, but we do learn more about its culture through the story itself and Jessa’s inner dialogue, things like their inherent aversion to fire. It would be great to see more of the city shown rather than told, so we will continue to wait for more, hopefully in a grand chase that puts us back on rooftops and through canals and passageways. Until then, the most fun comes from seeing Jessa slip a jab to land a right uppercut, or being overwhelmed until bursting through with one last push.
Overall, The Family Trade #4 is the most fun the series has offered so far. This is the pace the series should keep as its cruising altitude, and if it manages to do that then you can be happy to stick through for the long haul.
Reading The Family Trade? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.