Written by: Laura Hong-Tuason, CC2K Comics Editor
Having nearly escaped the tragedy and hell that was Sigma-451, wayfarer Sen Lusan and bounty hunter Mosa Ilad continue their search for information surrounding the all-powerful Lazarus Device. Although this time, they’re not doing it alone. Smuggler’s Luck is back with Volume 2!
Writer/Illustrator: Luke Santiago
Minor Spoilers: Book Two greatly follows the aftermath of Book One. Check out CC2K’s review of the first volume here.
Smuggler’s Luck: Book Two picks up several months after the events of Book One. Having procured the Lazarus Device from a trash recycling facility called the Ziggurat on Sigma-451, Sen, Mosa, and android Alice are on a course to Earth. There, they hope to acquire any knowledge they can about the device and whether they can fix it. However, finding information is a breeze. It is staying alive and keeping the Lazarus Device safe that poses the greatest challenge.
After the destruction of the Ziggurat, Tulgey Corporation—one of many corporations that govern all human colonies in this space odyssey—has been quick to piece together the events that transpired there and to conceal the truth. Disguising the explosion at the Ziggurat as an act of terrorism, and believing Sen and Mosa have located the Lazarus Device, Tulgey dispatches an operative known only as Thany to track the device down. This spells trouble for Sen and Mosa because corporate operatives are the most effective, skilled, and well-funded bounty hunters in the expanse. Still, nothing fazes Sen and Mosa. Instead, they tread forward into the face of danger, bringing with them a slew of interesting new allies and antagonists, and a story way different from Book One.
Alice, Sen, and Mosa
Book Two is a very ambitious story that attempts to tackle the big question of morality, racism, and what it truly means to be human in a world gone mad from corporate corruption, killer androids, and alien invasions. Lines become blurred when Alice discovers that Sen and Mosa aren’t as good and righteous as they appear to be. Sure, they were always known to be ruthless in Book One, but like Alice, we figured it was always done with good intentions. While that may still hold true, it does become harder to decipher good intentions from plain selfishness and greed. Regardless, writer Santiago shows us that nothing is ever really that simple.
Yet the story is not all about Sen, Mosa, and Alice. Characters like Thany, Tariq, and David walk along the same moral line. Some are more obvious than others on what side they’re on, but even then there are doubts concerning their true intentions. The new characters are very hit-or-miss, especially David and the twins. The former is too big of a coward whose choices are questionable. As for the latter, the twins are just absurdly weird to care for. They’re understandably there to serve as juxtaposition for Alice, but they come off as more annoying and one-dimensional than pitiful. David is essential to the story to an extent, but the plot is better off when it’s focused on the main team, Thany, and Tariq. Forget the twins.
Like Book One, part of the plot continues to explore Alice’s view of the world. Originally a combat android, she now acts like a normal human girl with a mind of her own after her code was damaged 40 years prior. Since being found in the Ziggurat by Sen and Mosa, Alice desperately wants to be human and show people she has real emotions. Nevertheless, this proves difficult when her killer instinct constantly reveals itself and tries to consume her. Seeing Alice develop in this volume is satisfying, but her struggle with identity is also heartbreaking.
Book Two is grotesquely more violent than Book One, and that’s because we’re now dealing with human on human fighting as opposed to human on androids. The ruthless violence exhibited at the beginning of the plot was admittedly hard to swallow. It felt like overkill. Fortunately Santiago did not leave this uncheck and gave these violent acts meaning through the eyes of Alice, who balances out Sen and Mosa. If he hadn’t, it would have felt very unjustified.
While the overall plot is invigorating, revealing more mysteries as we go along, it still fell into pitfalls that plagued Book One. Again, there were too many dialogue bubbles that took up panel space and did not quite point to the right speakers. Because of this, the story was hard to follow. The constant use of thought bubbles as well could be reduced and turned into monologues instead. Santiago also relies heavily on exposition rather then letting his characters speak for themselves through expressions or silence. Many of the characters talk too much without sharing anything of importance.
A big thing attributed to Book Two more than Book One is its lack of creativity in the problem-solving department. Many times throughout, Sen, Mosa, and Alice run into roadblocks. They’ll go on and on about how challenging their next objective is, yet the problem is solved as quickly as it came. Everything is easy for them. The solution is either handed to them or explained away all too conveniently. It is for this sole reason that the overall book gets knocked at least a point.
Nonetheless, Santiago has weaved together another adventurous comic that will still leave you asking for more. Book Two may be a bit confusing without having read the first volume, but Santiago does his best to keep his readers up-to-date. It is an intricate story that keeps on unraveling. Here’s to Book Three!
You can get your copy of Smuggler’s Luck at IndyPlanet.
3.5 out of 5.0
Author: Laura Hong-Tuason, CC2K Comics Editor
Laura is a writer from the San Francisco Bay Area, but currently resides in Southern California. She drinks too much milk tea, talks too much about Green Lantern, and would marry Barry Allen if he were real.