Writer: Kaare Kyle Andrews
Artist: Kaare Kyle Andrews
Letterer: Jeff Powell
Cover: Kaare Kyle Andrews
Publisher: Image Comics
After a six-month break, Kaare Andrews’ Renato Jones returns to a very different world.
With several real-world countries dealing with the rise of wealthy demigogs, the premise of this book has inched closer to reality. In the first season (arc) Renato Jones, who is known to his enemies as The Freelancer, preys on the “One %”, the world’s most diabolical aristocrats. His inherited fortune allows him to move within their society and witness first-hand the greed, sexual abuse and violence that goes unimpeded. His only compatriot in this mission is his elderly butler, who raised him from a boy after Renato’s aunt tried to kill him for his inheritance. For Renato Jones, the only tether to normal life is his childhood friend Bliss Chambers, daughter of Nicola Chambers, the very filth The Freelancer looks to expunge.
Season Two starts with a three-page recap that I found slightly confusing. There is a lot of information to get across to new readers, but even for a returning reader, I found it a bit disjointed. I would also shy away from suggesting this issue to a new reader. It relies heavily on situations set in motion in the last book, and while it looks beautiful, this issue doesn’t do much to bring the reader up to speed. That said, the first season was a great book and you should go back and read it anyways.
Andrews handles all the heavy lifting for his creator-owned book, both writing and drawing it from beginning to end. The art itself does seem more “crisp” as Andrews perfects this book’s style. The included “in-world” advertisements dispersed throughout, help this comic feel like a cohesive vision, and 38 pages of story make it worth the higher price point.
Much of the book is in black & white, with the only colour coming from sound effects and the coloured bookend pages. Assuming the letterer, Jeff Powell, handled these, I give him a good portion of the credit as well. Both the colour and typography choices cut through the monochrome pages, jerking the reader from one side to another as blows land and artillery explodes. Unfortunately, the lack of colour does add to the confusion, making it harder to know who or what you’re looking at.
Moving the major players around the board, the storyline takes a sharp turn away from last season’s finale. By the end of the book there is a small time-jump that seems to set up where this arc is going for both Renato personally and the world in general, namely dealing with a rising evil.
Though a bit confusing, even for a returning reader, the visceral art and storytelling shows why Kaare Andrews is a modern master. While some readers may not want to bring the real-world problems into their comic book escapism, others may find this as a (safe and legal) release for those same issues.