Dade and Monica continue their attempts to pacify the crew, with mixed results while all of the World Corp. employees affected by the contagion are still in the Satchidanada hospital, which Monica helped create. Meanwhile Darrow is confronted by the sudden reappearance of Thomas Walker, who looks worse for wear. And finally we have the search for Grimshaw with his assistant discovering a heat signature from the ground…but it’s too large to be human.
In this spirit, Nowhere Men #8 heads back to its reports of having multiple plots and subplots creep up on each other. One group of characters is silently influencing the course of another group of characters with neither really understanding what they’re getting themselves in. This sort of aerial view of the plot is a treat to see again even if some of the elements of it seem not as detailed or even slightly messy at times.
One of the things about Nowhere Men is that you must have a sense of patience. Reading the whole volume of it in one sitting definitely gives you a real feel for the world Stephenson and company had built. It’s important to realize that even if you’re a long-time reader that you don’t have the luxury of seeing everything all at once. We’re all back to seeing what Stephenson will plot out, bit by bit.
This makes certain parts of the issue frustrating.
Who is Dr. Zeus and why is he helping Susan retain her corporal body? It makes for some good dialogue about the soul and the body being simply a house that must be re-built, but it seemingly comes out of nowhere and is disorientating.
Speaking of disorienting, artist Dave Taylor sometimes accentuates the characters’ faces too much or too little. There’s a point where Taylor zooms in to close on Kurt’s face and the artwork doesn’t back up that sort of shot. The sketches of Kurt’s lines come in too close and it amplifies the individual parts to the extent that we focus on them rather than the bigger picture. These are nitpicks but they do stand out when compared to the other artwork in the issue.
This goes back to the previous issue where Taylor makes it difficult to identify a certain character. I’m still not sure whether it is one character or another in this issue. It appeared to be one at first, but in this issue it appears to be a different character completely. It may have just been me but it was unclear that the character at the end of the last issue was who he’s revealed to be in this issue. Did anyone else have this confusion?
As I said, Dade’s abilities to coax the World Corp. employees have mixed results. I appreciated his sentiments and what he was and is trying to do: atone for his mistakes. However, I don’t think anyone can blame those affected by the contagion for giving Dade the cold shoulder.
This raises the question: Should personal feelings stop them from saving the world?
I think it’d be interesting if some of the scientists who were experimented on, defected and went with Darrow or Grimshaw (if he’s still alive), or decided to do their own thing. That seems unlikely but it’d be more interesting than everyone going along with World Corp. and Ellis.
On the other hand, do they have much of a choice? Many of them have lost a lot and so can they afford World Corp making sure they keep their mouths (or existence) shut?
There’s a great scene that helped ensure that Dade didn’t use one of his poignant speeches to get away with his previous lies about the space station. This scene helped validate my eyes rolling while Dade tries to counsel these people who have had terrible things happen to them. Meanwhile, Dade has retained almost everything except now he can read minds. Other people’s lives have been destroyed and nothing that Dade can say will change that.
Lastly, I’d be hard-pressed not to mention the opening few pages of Nowhere Men #8 which continue the chalky and vaporous flashback detailing Monica’s childhood.
Growing up with a father who’s a glorified scientist and celebrity means the needs or wants of Monica become subordinated to this legacy. She is expected to also envelop in her own life, the things that made her father, Emerson Strange, such a successful individual. Instead, Monica decides that only she can determine how she wants to live her life. Seeing a character resist the pressures put on her from the outside and be aware of retaining her own sense of self resonated with me and was another highlight of this issue.
The writing in Nowhere Men #8 is still solid, for the most part. Patience will be required on my part and other readers if they’re going to want to fully indulge in the experience Stephenson is trying to give us. And I know it’s a cliché’ but yes, you may have to wait for another issue for things to pick up a little bit more. There isn’t much more action in this story but that’s never really been the focus (or at least the focus) of Nowhere Men. Instead, interesting commentaries on celebrity status and power as well as issues of accountability and science are some of the key themes being explored.
Some of the exploration of those themes are done very well, but they are usually brief. The plot must be held to and sometimes it seems like that takes precedent over these small written victories Stephenson carves out for himself.
For the most part, the art is rather solid. The flashbacks to Monica are quickly becoming some of the best parts of the series to me. I think on the next issue I may just be most excited to read the first five pages or so more than anything else.
I will say, the final page confused me, but this time it wasn’t only in a “Who is that character?” way but also because the art just flat out didn’t resonate with me. I don’t know exactly what was going on in that page, and honestly I’m not sure if I want to.
- Stephenson continues his downright impressive plot juggling
- The art continues to be mostly solid
- Monica's flashback sections are a delight
- Some of the artwork is jagged compared to previous elements
- Despite the plot juggling there are confusing or messy moments
- The ending was not only baffling but poorly rendered