Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Declan Shalvey
Colours: Jordie Bellaire
The critically acclaimed superstar team behind last years’ Moon Knight relaunch at Marvel deliver the 4th issue in their distinctive science fiction/horror series Injection this month, expanding on the origins and motives of the Injection, as well as what exactly drove Maria Kilbride into Sawtooth Hospital for psychiatric care. Can they keep up the momentum while still maintaining the mystery? Or does Injection need a dose of adrenaline?
Injection #4 picks up with Brigid collecting Simeon from the airport in Dublin to discuss the contents of the laptop obtained last issue. This serves as a strong character moment between the two, helping define their relationship and differences in personality by contrasting how differently they process having to kill. It’s incredibly effective and, within the space of a couple of pages, asserts their close bond and where they are mentally after their actions in the previous issues.
The rest of the issue revolves around the nature of the titular Injection, hinting at it’s origins and the Cross Cultural Contamination Unit’s implication in its birth, as well as highlighting Maria’s fragile mental state and the events that took place to affect her so. Considering all of this it might sound like Injection #4 is a little heavy on the exposition, and strictly speaking you’d be correct. However, this issue couldn’t be farther from the realms of un-engaging info-dump.
Ellis ensures we’re still connected to the myriad of characters through smooth, conversational dialogue, ensuring all of the character interaction seems natural and fluid, while still steadily toeing the line between unraveling the mystery and maintaining the intrigue and suspense. Shalvey has an obvious natural flare for depicting characters with emotion and expression, and as such confidently handles such scenes which could have otherwise fallen flat. Shalvey also demonstrates a great sense of design towards the latter portion of Injection #4 with his rendering of the various monsters and supernatural beings that Maria Kilbride has encountered in her time assisting the Cursus, demonstrating the brilliant sense of imagination we’ve seen from him in previous issues. And the more said about Bellaire’s colours the better. Bellaire’s choices of pallets and technique serve to enhance every panel in every scene, appropriately conveying a close sense of foreboding in present day scenes set after the release of the Injection, and the scenes of the Cross Cultural Contamination Unit discussing how to direct the progression of human invention in the past are suitably bright and crisp, evoking a carefree, hopeful atmosphere that represents the characters before they become jaded, disconnected or otherwise troubled.
Having said that, Injection has admittedly been a slow burner so far, and there’s a lot of characters to keep track of and organisations to memorise. These are founded issues one could have with the book, and naturally they’re going to repel certain types of readers. Reading Injection #1 definitely felt like being thrown in at the deep end and the heady, intellectual ideas that have permeated the book so far can be difficult to grasp while keeping track of everything else. But it really feels like the story’s starting to grow legs with Injection #4, and once you’re initiated the weird mix of futurism, folklore, technology and bureaucracy sinks it’s hooks in and coalesces to form a distinct blend of science fiction and horror that I can safely say is like little else on the market today. Couple that with unsurprisingly brilliant efforts from the entire team involved and there’s bound to be an aspect of Injection that will captivate you.
Ultimately, Injection #4 is a fantastic, if a little expository, installment of what is proving itself to be a wonderfully obscure, mysterious and intriguing title, and fans of the series so far will not be disappointed. If you’ve not read any Injection yet and are a fan of the team’s previous work (specifically Warren Ellis) or are just intrigued by the blend of sci-fi and horror, then I would highly recommend picking up the issues so far and catching up, or at least waiting for the trade to binge the whole thing and soak in every hint or piece of foreshadowing.