North Bend from creator/writer Ryan Ellsworth is a title I caught up with a few years back through Kickstarter and having loved issues #1 & #2 at the time I was glad to hear it found a new home at Scout Comics.
As the story continues in this third issue the plot threads are beginning to become more & more intertwined with each other as the fallout from secret government drug development sees it’s influence really start to set in. The lives of the key players are drifting in and out of view too as the scientists toss around the ethical questions of the things they’ve been involved in just as the CIA themselves begin to take the first steps in that secret drugs program with Brendan Kruge proving to be pivotal in those efforts.
The world around them is still in flux though and as everything from the Russians to nosey neighbours begins to have an influence on their efforts – the key question is just how successful their efforts may or may not end up being. The walls are closing in and the opening three issues have already introduced us to a world Ryan has big plans for…..or at least that’s how it feels so far and I’m hoping that he’s still sticking with the plans for a 10-part series.
It’s easy to see why North Bend from Ryan was picked up by a publisher as the intricacies of the world are evident very early on and while their continues to be a high amount of narration & dialogue it’s the detail that makes this story as intriguing as it is. With the threads connected to the scientists, the CIA, the reporter investigations into the potential programs that are going it could well have lost itself in it’s own world but the pacing and attention to detail keeps things exceptionally tight as things progress.
Art duties for this third (and the remainder of the series) is picked up by Pablo De Bonis and while there’s a definite difference in the styles, it manages to remain consistent with the gritty themes that have been there from the beginning. Part of that consistency could well be down to the colouring staying as strong in the hands of new member Paul Little, so both those parts of the team have changed but nailed it. Thomas Mauer returns to letter this after picking things up on issue two and yet again the quality is there where the amount of detail he’s got to deal with is kept in check page after page.
Consistency in the final product has been key in the first three issues of North Bend and while the contributors for art, lettering & colours have changed along the way, the team mentality has held its own and then some. That all helps to bring the intricate components of the story together nicely and highlights just how important every piece of the creative process is in turning a good title into a great title…..and this slips easily in that category. Having followed this title from way back, there’s no doubt that I’m sticking around for the whole series and I’m hoping there’s a collected edition in the long-term plans too…….BRILLIANT book.