We've just gone past the halfway point of "DV8: Gods and Monsters," and I like to think that if the ongoing series had always been this entertaining, it would still have been published today.(Well, except for all those WildStorm crossovers and universe resets, but you know what I mean.) With each issue, Brian Wood and Rebekah Isaacs have successfully broken down and then rebuilt the members of DV8, and this one is no exception.
I have to give Wood credit that it could have been quite easy to take a misstep with using Gem as narrator for the comic, presenting her after-the-fact views on what happened to the team during their time on the mystery planet. After all, Gem is serving both as narrator and in some ways psychologist, delving into their minds and explaining what was happening. Wood never makes it feel like the book is telling you versus showing you, though; it's still an active rather than passive story, and Gem is ultimately only saying what we were already seeing for ourselves.
This issue focuses on Rachel and Matthew, with Wood establishing a contrast between the pair. It's a good pairing, letting them not only be opposites physically but also emotionally. I don't remember if Rachel was always this aloof in the original series (it's been a long time since those Warren Ellis and Humberto Ramos issues that I read), but in some ways it doesn't particularly matter. Wood is taking core pieces of their character and then forming their new presentation around those ideas. It even fits in with the idea of this mini-series in general, having them all so far removed from the rest of the world and their safety nets that their true centers are starting to show and we're seeing what really makes up the various DV8 members. And when conflict breaks out this issue, Wood makes it feel like the most inevitable and natural thing to happen. My only complaint with the writing is that this is the first time an issue's "to be continued" moment hasn't felt quite right; there isn't that "uh oh" or "what next?" moment tied into it. It's a minor quibble at best, though, and in a collected edition I'm sure no one will even notice.
Isaacs continues to draw "DV8: Gods and Monsters" in a gorgeous, self-assured style. I like the thick ink lines and rounded shapes that she gives the characters, and while they're all attractive in different ways, the characters never come across as too idealized or perfect. Even drawings as simple as Gem sitting in her chair, holding onto one of her crossed legs, contain a strong body language and sense of being. You can feel Gem's slight uneasiness with the next part of her story, even in what is little more than a transitional panel. Isaacs takes a lot of care with every piece of this comic, and I definitely want to see more from her after "DV8" is over.
If there's still a team to come back to once "DV8: Gods and Monsters" is over, I'd love to see Wood and Isaacs tackle the characters again. I've learned to love this series and characters, and I can see the potential in this group that was discarded for so long. If it's not "DV8," though, I'd still be happy to see Wood and Isaacs collaborate on another comic down the line. They're working well together, and their comic has become appointment reading.