Written by: Van Jensen
Art by: Pete Woods
We’re now four issues into Cryptocracy and some series hallmarks are emerging; Chief among them is its breakneck pacing that has seldom slowed down for anything more than a few pages in total across the early run. Jensen has tons of information to dole out, and has found ways to do that effectively while always seeming to leave plenty of stones unturned.
This delivery has been notable in each issue’s opening page, especially. After the intro laid out the Nine families and their hierarchy in simple terms, each subsequent issue has provided quick background stories for each of them. Collectively, it allows readers to learn a whole lot right away on page one. It seems like a throwaway detail, but it truly has led to more enjoyment out of the deliberately complicated world the author has built. Speaking of that heavy lifting the series requires, the opening section’s visit to The Preserve is probably the strangest yet, and that includes when an earlier issue featured a bug-eyed “Grey” snacking on Doritos. Excessively vulgar cryptids seemed like a strange choice that missed any targeted humor, and that dialogue wasn’t helped when the emotionally-charged scenes within the fabled Preserve fell flat.
The series works best when its sticking to its intrigue and mystery, and issue #4’s failures to resonate emotionally may prove to be a problem going forward. The only character worth rooting for is Bela, the whistle-blower working to expose the Families and all of their puppeteering. Everyone else being highlighted, including Grahame, just doesn’t possess, at least currently, the character core worth cheering for.
The events that unfold in this latest issue are some of the series’ biggest and most intense so far. The way they bridge the A and B stories using Hum is probably the most exciting part of the whole issue too. But the attempt to resonate in a way other than through mystery and political drama just don’t reach the mark, and that could be a hint of future troubles too.