FAMILIAR CRIMES IN A STRANGE NEW WORLD IN JOHNSTON AND GREENWOOD’S ‘THE FUSE: THE RUSSIA SHIFT’ [REVIEW]
By John Parker
On its own, the police procedural doesn’t have that much traction within modern comics. In the early days of the medium — especially in newspaper strips — it was a different story, and straight-up police tales were among some of the most popular of the day. A little over a decade ago, though, everybody seemed to realize the potential to mix police procedurals with other genres, frequently to fantastic and award-winning results: Alan Moore and Gene Ha‘s Top Ten; Gotham Central, by Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, Michael Lark and others; and Powers by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming. Those books realized the natural fit that cop stories had within superhero stories, and thus a sub-genre was born.
But there’s still plenty of room left for cop shows in comics, and over the last few years, the sci-fi procedural has definitely been in its ascendance. With Antony Johnston and Justin Greenwood’s The Fuse, we have a new standard by which to judge all others.
When critics and reviewers say that a setting is as much a character as any other, we don’t really mean it, unless we’re talking about Danny the Street or Ego or something like that. Otherwise, it’s just a nice, catchy way of saying that the world is so fleshed-out, and the setting so fascinating, that we might be more interested in the surroundings than the protagonist, the villain, or the love interest. You could say the same about The Fuse and it wouldn’t be a slight against the characters: as enigmatic, interesting, and well-rounded as Detectives Ristovych and Dietrich are, the Fuse itself is the real star of the book.