Vessels takes place in the fantasy world of Cairnthala, where an entity known as the Eye-God is laying waste to the land, its presence seemingly tied to amnesiac drifter Wake. Upon Wake’s defeat of the creature, reality itself was torn apart and objects from our modern world rained from the sky. The Eye-God fled, weakened but not destroyed, and to achieve final victory Wake must take her place as a figure of legend and save the realm from the devastation ravaging it.
The first issue was a suitably epic affair, introducing us to the surreal majesty of a mystical dominion and climaxing with a sky-bound battle that featured a church tower used as a projectile weapon. This continuation pulls us deeper into the mystery of the dying dreamscape.
Although Wake is now confirmed as being the subject of a prophecy, the girl herself remains somewhat enigmatic, with allusions to her hazy past reminding us that despite her being the focus of the series, we still know very little about her. How she is connected to the ‘real’ world is made clearer without anything being explicitly spelled out, but it’s a testament to how compelling the story is that this inexorable confirmation remains a minor detail against the vast scale of the setting.
New characters are introduced that further the scope for conflict, with some, such as a mad priest, believing Wake to be an impostor responsible for the very evil she is attempting to vanquish, while another is a character previously assumed an ally in the making but is revealed to be driven by concealed motivations.
Again, the Vessels themselves (five sense-themed hunters searching for Wake for as-yet-unspecified reasons) make an appearance only towards the end, but looming battles and hints that Wake has more of a direct link to them than anyone realises likely means it won’t be long before at least one of them faces off with their quarry.
As with the previous issue, the full-colour artwork flares in prismatic radiance, its detail ranging from the light and shadow of a flickering candle to the psychedelic infinity of a twinkling cosmos. Intriguingly, it’s established that such distinctively saturated shading is not merely artistic interpretation, but an in-world representation of an unnatural incandescence symptomatic of the troubles plaguing the decaying nation. Other techniques that keep up the visual variance include bulging eyes that indicate encroaching insanity, blurred outlines to convey swift movement, and panels drawn at tilted angles to create disorienting perspectives.
This second issue of Vessels lives up to the expectations left by its debut and then some. It affords us little more understanding about what’s going on, but leaves us eager and impatient to find out.
VESSELS #2 / AUTHOR: DAVE COOK / ARTIST: RAFAEL DESQUITADO JR, DENNIS LEHMANN / PUBLISHER: CARD SHARK COMICS / RELEASE DATE: JULY 28TH