Nick Spencer and Ronald Salas pull off an interesting trick with the conclusion of “Existence 2.0” by continuing to make the story of Sylvester, the amoral scientist who transferred his brain into the body of Marko, the assassin who killed him, more complex with intricate twists and turns, while maintaining a simple concept at the story’s core. Man in hitman’s body. Nice, easy, simple, and, yet, the story continues to add up surprises, double-crosses, and betrayals, culminating in a poignant end.
Last issue ended with Sylvester/Marko convinced that he was not Sylvester’s consciousness in Marko’s body, but, instead, that he was just Marko, a man with a history of psychotic breaks and delusions. With Marko’s sister beating him down and delivering him to Cherry, the man behind Sylvester’s murder. Apparently, Marko has double-crossed Cherry and it’s time for him to die. But, of course, not before even more shocking revelations are presented and we learn just what happened to Sylvester’s kidnapped daughter.
“Existence 2.0” never slows down, always presenting new information or advancing the plot. The quicker pace both makes it a dense read and a quick one, which is quite the feat to pull off, but Spencer’s pacing is dead on. This issue has the right mix of action and explanation, of speed up and slow down, of violence and heart. In some spots, the balance may shift a bit too heavy in one direction or another, but it’s righted quickly.
The biggest problem with this issue and the series as a whole, though, is that every character is so open and accepting of whatever comes their way. If questions are asked, they are usually pushed aside with the thinnest of explanations, all in order to move the plot forward. This is both a positive and negative since it keeps the pacing quick and we know that these characters would eventually accept things, so why waste time convincing them? But, there’s a certain level of implausibility to this concept, which then gets shifted to the characters as they simply go along with everything.
Ronald Salas has a nice, breezy, cartoony style reminiscent of Cully Hamner’s that increases the comparisons that I had throughout this issue to “Red.” Where Salas differs is that his style is darker and sketchier, a bit rougher than Hamner. At the same time, his style is less blocky, more fluid, as evidenced in the preview pages. Some panels lack the definition and detail of a seasoned pro, but Salas impresses on every page, matching Spencer’s script every step of the way.
“Existence 2.0” #3 concludes this series with lots of action, shocking revelations, numerous double-crosses, and then comes screaming to an end that will rip your heart out. With “Existence 3.0” on the way, I’m left wondering how Spencer and Salas can follow this up, but I’m eager to find out.