Comic Vine Review


The Fuse #1 - The Russian Shift Part 1 Review


Homicide in space. Crime procedural meets sci-fi. THE FUSE has one pretty swell spark.

The Good

THE FUSE is a perfect juncture of things-Image-is-doing-right-right-now: it's a hard-boiled crime book with a dystopic sci-fi setting, and it's scripted in such a way that neither aspect feels lacking. I'm not sure that there could be a high concept more likely to pique my interest, and based on trends in Image readership, I'm betting that I'm not alone here. Space detectives, you guys.

It's not just a high concept, either; THE FUSE thrusts us immediately into a future that seems grimy rather than shiny, and cold rather than optimistic, and it's an impeccable setting for a neo-noir. Also sparking a wonderfully suspenseful feeling right out of the gate: The Fuse is a contained location, which means that our detective pals have limited space to roam, and tight quarters in which to find themselves in danger. Said danger willingly presents itself immediately; how can you not love a book that gets straight to the point and dumps a body on you within the first half of the first issue?

I'm also digging the wordplay snuck in to this issue's title -- "Russia shift" the noun, and Russia shift the verb -- both wrapping neatly around Klem. And Klem herself? Immediately likable for her til-death-do-I-retire attitude and unconventional demographic. Justin Greenwood serves up an older lady detective that's less Jessica Fletcher and more…well, the kind of lady detective that puts guys like Dietrich in their places. She's not lying about her age, but she's not trading the badge for a bingo card. I'm already really into this character, and I've only seen her for a first issue.

The Bad

There are a lot of things I really like about this book's art. There are also more panels than I'd like that pop a gradient in the background instead of an environment. It works in small doses -- the city sequences get a hazy sort of look that makes us wonder how weird it must feel to be on The Fuse -- but I feel like the issue loses a little bit of its energy when there are too many panels of still-person-sans-backdrop.

The Verdict

Sometimes a book just comes out that feels eerily tailored to one's personal preferences, and for me, this first issue is that book. Space. Murder. Cleverness. Pairing new-kid-in-town Dietrich with hard-boiled Klem is -- to use Klem's words -- a slam dunk. Not only are we getting some decidedly not-bland characters, but we get to watch them solve intriguing crimes in a neo-neo-noir setting. I'm going to call this one a must-read for fans of just about anything Image is putting out right now; there are notes reminiscent of both the gritty crime fare that fans of FATALE, TEN GRAND, and the like will enjoy, but also a healthy does of dystopic future adventure for BLACK SCIENCE, SAGA, and EAST OF WEST aficionados.

8 Comments Refresh
Edited by Hawkguy

Hey Jen! I completely agree with your review! This was a surprising title this week, I can't wait to see more. I've never heard of the writer but I was happy to see a balance in comedy, seriousness and suspense along with the two interesting lead characters.

Will you be making a review for Mercenary Sea? If not, what did you think?

Posted by ptigrusmagus

A decent start and grounded start, not high Sci Fi like EGOs, more in line with Byrnes' High Ways. Take out one splash page and we wouldn't even know they were in space. Soft Sci Fi with good character and dialogue focus. Looking forward to issue #2.

Posted by Ashr

The Fuse plotline is remniscent of a 1981 movie called Outland starring Sean Connery. The IMDb synopsis from that film states, "In the distant future, a police marshal stationed at a remote mining colony on the Jupiter moon of Io uncovers a drug-smuggling conspiracy, and gets no help from the populace when he later finds himself marked for murder."

Different but similar or am I completely off the mark?

Posted by livingsilver

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. For me, it was the dialogue that drew me in- you get a strong sense of the characters and I immediately liked them (not saying that they're likable people, but likable personalities). While the art does not immediately jump out and grab you, it is highly effective in storytelling. The colors especially. Even though they are flat for the most part, they serve a significant functional service in telling the story.

Again, I didn't expect to enjoy this issue as much as I did. You should try it out.

Posted by Owie

This sounds pretty interesting but unfortunately my LCS didn't have any (or at last any left when I got there). I'll have to scout around, I guess.

Edited by livingsilver

@owie: It's for sale on It's digital, no DMR, and $0.50 cheaper than the paper version.

Posted by Owie

@owie: It's for sale on It's digital, no DMR, and $0.50 cheaper than the paper version.

Thanks. Yeah, I figured I could find it digitally but I prefer paper if I can get it. Still, 50 cents cheaper...

Posted by DonFelipe

Just read it! Loved it! Need more!

The two detectives make for an interesting and, of course, odd couple. Like the teaser said "you don't need to be mad... to work here... but it damn sure helps" -- Klem & Dietrich are my new favorite space cops!