Publisher: BOOM! STUDIOS
Writer: Ed BRISSON
Illustrator: Damian COUCEIRO
Colourist: Cassie KELLY
Cluster #8 brings this thrilling space adventure miniseries to a conclusion. As readers we have followed Samara’s journey from a self pitying convict who has volunteered for hard labour on the prison planet of Midlothian to slightly less self pitying hardened leader of a militant group of escapees. A group we last saw launching a direct attack on the prison they once called home.
It is at this point of direct, violent contact with the rotten institution that we start Cluster #8. This series has been notable for its fast pacing and with so much having happened between the first issue and this final issue it would be almost be understandable for non-readers to think this might have been at the expense of character development.
Thankfully Brisson’s writing and fantastic eye for natural dialogue has kept this series grounded and allowed the reader to maintain a connection to the core players; especially Samara herself. Where many miniseries that have tried to cover as much ground as Cluster has fail is that the characters are merely vessels for the story to evolve around. Cluster has managed to avoid this trap by making the core of the story about Samara’s own internal battle with her crime and guilt; the explosions and multiple deaths are just the glorious icing on the cake. Samara is still struggling with her grief and guilt throughout the wholesale carnage of Cluster #8 giving her decisions in this story a deeper resonance than if these elements of her character had been ignored. While at times the flashback scenes seemed somewhat disassociated from the plot they have helped build to the eventual payoff well.
The art of Cluster #8 -provided by Couceiro– once again keeps expertly abreast of the pacing with engaging and informative panel layouts that offer no ambiguity as to where a scene is taking place or which characters are involved. This is aided by some interesting use of the environment to offer the best perspective of a scene. While panels are never explicitly drawn from the perspective of a specific character it often seems like we are witnessing events transpire from the eyes of a side character in the room. This creates an immersive effect that helps draw the reader into the story rather than making them a passive observer.
Kelly’s work on colouring creates a wonderful range of different tones for each of the various locations we visit in Cluster #8. Even within the prison itself -where most of this issue is set- Kelly uses subtle pallet changes in each section that aids understanding of location and the mood of the room we are moved to.
Again Brisson & Couceiro’s collaborative efforts creating Cluster #8 are apparent throughout this issue with each character design being as unique as their voice; not only this but the pairing of tone and appearance is never jarring. With both artist and writer taking joint creator there are no miscommunications between the two and Cluster #8 benefits hugely for it. This series is a fantastic read as well as being a great example of the benefits of a good symbiotic relationship between writer and artist.
Cluster #8 brings us a very satisfying conclusion to this wonderful miniseries. With the amount of events we have gone through with Samara and her remaining crew it seems impossible it’s only been 8 issues. Cluster has certainly been an exhilarating journey and one that we are sad to see ending. We are given a satisfying conclusion to this story but one that does not necessarily serve as a final ending to our hero’s tale; hopefully we see more from Samara and co in the future.