Duo #5 and 6
After having fought off attacks from the Immutables and Dr. Tinker, Kelly is in control of David’s body and Tinker’s robots. With all of the power and almost none of the restraint, will she be able to accomplish her and David’s dream while he fades away into the recess of their shared mind or will they find a way to coexist and love each other like they did before?
Sometimes all it takes is a little love and understanding.
Each issue of Duo grapples with different themes, sometimes relationship issues, the morals and ethics of immortality and in issues five and six, power and the abuse and mistrust that it can engender. Greg Pak has done an excellent job in making this series the breakout of the Earth-M line with it being the first Milestone book to move away from Dakota City and its surrounding area as it places its focus on this couple of scientists and the threats that they face while trying to change the world for the better.
With issue five focusing on Kelly Vu taking control of David’s body, Pak explores the idea of Kelly taking her and David’s altruistic dreams of saving the world to heart and doing what she can with the nanobots to cure sick people’s ailments. Where Dr. Tinker would likely exploit that technology for personal gain/military application and the Immutables would destroy it before even more people could become immortal, Kelly serves as the perfect middle ground of someone wanting to do good for the sake of good without disrupting the natural order by creating more undying people. It shows that there are more layers to humanity than greed and selfishness that both antagonists of this book seem to exemplify.
However, with issue six, Pak does introduce readers to The Irredeemables, red skinned immortals that embody everything that Marius fears humanity would become if they were given the chance to become immortal. The Irredeemables are sociopaths who seek nothing more than wanton destruction because in their eyes, nothing matters. With time being meaningless to them, they’ve lost any sense of humanity that they may have had in the past and Pak does a great job of portraying them as villains to be rightly feared. Even Dr. Tinker sets aside his hatred of the Immutables and David/Kelly in order to help stop the monsters before they can destroy his world.
Khoi Pham’s pencils in these last two issues of this arc were absolutely fantastic and possibly some of the best in the series so far. With issue five mostly being about how Kelly has almost completely subsumed David in terms of strength in the Mind Palace, Pham makes the most of her newfound ego, generally framing her as a messiah-like figure in David’s body. There are many panels of her floating above masses of the sick and infirmed with Pham making liberal use of high angle wide shots to establish the sense that she’s finally achieving the dream that she and David initially created the nanobots for; saving humanity.
On the whole, issue five is very calm with many scenes just being back and forth conversations, either between David and Kelly or the Immutables and Dr. Tinker. Pham utilizes many close ups in these scenes to emphasize character emotions, the best of which are the smiles and amazement when the citizens that David and Kelly pass every day to work are cured of their ailments. Pham’s wispy linework with the nanobots make them come off as almost magical entities.
Issue six kicks the art into high gear as Pham fills very many of the pages with high intensity action. His linework is tight and heavily detailed with dust and debris plumbing and flying as everyone, from the Immutables to Tinker and the titular couple themselves, face off against the Ireedeemables. Pham makes sure that the action has a sense of weight through the use of impact waves, speed lines and blurring techniques when David and Kelly finally unite to use their powers. Pham also uses a variety of dynamic angles for their panels, not letting any of them feel to stale or monotone – the same goes for the body language and movements of the characters with all of their poses being cool and helping them to look impactful and full of life in the middle of such a harrowing battle.
Scott Hanna’s inks fill the book out, helping to add depth to the characters and their environments in both issues. The inks over Pham’s lines gives them a thickness that creates a sense of definition that helps to separate characters from the pretty chaotic backgrounds of issue six. They also help with the lighting as many of the scenes have shadows for the darkened parts of clothing, as well as the abyss that continuously threatens to swallow David in the Mind Palace.
Chris Sotomayor’s colors elevate the art by giving the readers eyes something more to latch on to. Issue five made great use of bright yellows for the nanobots, giving them something of a golden sheen, evoking the idea of a miracle cure for the downtrodden people that Kelly wanted to save. And later on, when both the Immutables and Tinker attack David, Sotomayor makes great use of red-orange-yellow gradients when Gudrun, Morien and Marius of the Immutables attack Kelly in David’s body, with the colors acting as both background for the impacts of David’s body being struck and the energy blasts that Marius hits them with.
Issue six furthers this excellent use of color when the Irredeemables are introduced and all of them are made to look distinct with a high intensity red coloring to each of their skins. Because they take up many pages of the book, they excellently contrast against the blue skies, silver buildings and grey smoke that comprise most of the backgrounds. But their colors pop best when David and Kelly finally fully unite their consciousness and fight against the Irredeemables with a shimmering of gold and white. It’s very visually pleasing and Sotomayor does a great job with balancing his tones and shades to create a dynamic color experience.
Janice Chiang’s letters bring it all home with excellent word balloon placement, fantastic variety in style when David and Kelly are in the Mind Palace and are given their yellow and blue colorings for their swirling word balloons and finally, amazing sound effects. I will always be a big fan of letterers who make use of sound in their books because it gives me a palpable sense of what I should be hearing in a scene – from the heavy KATHOOM of David/Kelly slamming into the head Irredeemable to the metallic SHINGs and SHANGs as they impale the villains with their sharp nanobots and even dialogue such as a NOOOOO that lines the top of the panel in bold pink letters as the Irredeemables are defeated make for a nice touch.
Duo has been a great series thus far. Greg Pak, Khoi Pham, Scott Hanna, Chris Sotomayor and Janice Chiang tell an excellent, heartfelt story and sets up a hopeful if difficult future for the rest of Earth M. With their fantastic art, storytelling and letters, this book is one that everyone should definitely seek out!
Duo #5 and 6: Psychopaths and Nanobots
- Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
- Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10
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