Warning: The following review may contain spoilers for The Precinct #1 and The Precinct #2.
First of all, I want to start by saying that The Precinct is my new banner on Twitter. For the longest time, it was a scene from Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War. This is because that was my first comic review, and I was a bit sentimental about that fact. My decision to change this was based primarily upon the realization that Dynamite’s The Precinct was likely to become one of my favorite comics to review. After reading this second issue, my hunch appears to have been correct.
When we last left our heroes, veteran detective Mortimer Hill and Alchemy Academy acolyte Josephine Winters, they were getting ready to face a giant mechanical demon which appeared to be related to a string of bizarre murders. Hill and Winters were not overjoyed at the prospect of working together, largely due to differing opinions regarding the place of steam technology in their society. Meanwhile, the Alchemy Academy was hoping to reinstate themselves in the Senate so that they could help regulate the overabundance of steam technology in their world. Not big fans of steampunk, the Alchemy Academy.
The issue with the Senate actually commands a great deal of the plot in The Precinct #2, and I must praise writer Frank J. Barberie for his ability to hold my interest in what could have read like a boring political proceeding. It doesn’t hurt that artist Crizam Cristhian Zamora continues to impress with his unique designs. The aforementioned scene features a steampunk gavel that almost looks like a mechanical take on Thor’s hammer. Does steampunk necessitate such strong design in a prop as simple as a gavel? No. Is it awesome that Zamora did it anyway? You bet.
Not only do we learn more about the politics of this world, but we also learn a bit more about how magic fits into it. We specifically learn why Jo has such strong grip over magic, and we get to see her cast a few spells that show off the abilities of colorist Dinei Ribeiro. It’s strange, in a way. The colors in this comic have this faded, old-school feel about 99% of the time, which really works with the genre. But the magic always feels a bit crisper, a bit bolder. It reminds us that not only is this a modern comic book, but its take on a beloved genre has something new to offer that we haven’t quite seen before. Not like this, anyway.
Interestingly enough, magic in The Precinct turns out to be a bit like the Force in Star Wars. It’s something that touches all of us, yet some are much more attuned to it than others. Following that comparison, Mortimer is a bit like Han Solo. Even after seeing the Force (or “the Spark,” as it were) in action, he still doubts its existence.
As for Mortimer’s arm…well, we don’t have a full explanation for that just yet. He likely won’t open up about that particular bit of his history until he’s gotten much closer to Jo. He already seems to be getting there, in his own peculiar way. The two of them may have a number of ideological differences, but Hill seems to trust her a little more now that they’ve shared in some danger together. And with the promise of even more steampunk monsters in future issues, they’re going to be facing even more danger by the time this miniseries reaches its end.
While it’s hard to say for sure, we may actually get our first look at who’s behind the murder conspiracy at the heart of the series’ plot. As for why someone would want to create monsters from steam technology while appearing to kill in the name of the Alchemy Academy, we are still mostly in the dark. Mortimer appears to know a little bit about the current primary suspect, but there are a lot of details that have yet to be filled in.
The plug for The Precinct #3 suggests that someone will die in the next issue, but I really hope this isn’t a reference to either of the main characters. The relationship between Mort and Jo is really making this series for me. They seem to currently be somewhere in between respecting each other on a professional level and hating each other on a personal one. I wouldn’t mind spending another couple of issues exploring that dynamic. Either way, this latest issue has me excited. The Precinct is going to be hunting monsters while Mort and Jo grow ever closer to a conspiracy that may or may not involve some higher-ups in the Alchemy Academy. There’s a lot to look forward to in the future of the series.
The Precinct #2 succeeds in many things, but primarily it manages to continue a great story while leaving the reader absolutely pumped for the next issue. By the time you reach the last page, you’ll be simultaneously frustrated that you have to wait a month for more, yet relieved that the series has only just begun. Even two or three panels with these characters, and you’d wish the miniseries would never end. Whether you enjoy steampunk, magic, or simply good comic books, you don’t want to miss out on The Precinct.