by Thegreatmagnet on June 07, 2017

Written by David Baron
Illustrated by Yusuf Idris
Colored by David Baron
Published by 451 Media
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
Stained launched out of the gate last month with an action packed, done-in-one story, that also served to introduce the protagonist and the general sci-fi premise of the series. Issue 2 is ostensibly the start of a new arc and it introduces a mystery that will assumedly span the remainder of the mini-series. The issue is pretty solid on the first read through, with a twist cliffhanger ending that sent me back to the beginning to search for clues.
First and foremost, Stained is a detective story, so the overall impact will be largely dependent on the quality of the mystery. In this issue, Emma takes a case involving a stolen painting, which might come across a bit stale. I was blindsided in the final panel of the issue, which suggests that the black market painting auctions are actually a front for human trafficking. However, there are still some enticing mysteries set up in the issue. Who actually hired Emma for this case, and is she being set up? What exactly is the nature of the other subjects in the auction, given that the other paintings appear to be robots or stains? Why was the kidnapped girl sleeping overnight in the park, and conspicuously mismatched with the school uniforms of her friends? Who is the one wolf that participates at the auction, where the other participants are pigs? I’m excited to see where Baron is going with the story.
On some level, I wish that this issue had included more of the elements that stood out to me in the first issue. Emma’s relationships with her contacts at the police precinct were pretty minimal, and they had done a lot to humanize her in the first issue. This issue was also a bit lighter on the whoop-ass, granted they may have been playing up Emma’s toughness in the first issue. I also don’t believe they addressed Emma’s stigma as a stain in this issue, which had previously been a compelling element. I’ll assume that they spent most of the real estate this issue building the new mystery. Also, I would describe the storytelling as very cinematic. The dialog is naturalistic and no-nonsense, and leaves room for enticing speculation by inquisitive readers. It’s a fairly fast read, but I think it invites subsequent re-readings for additional clues.
As with issue 1, the art here is top-knotch. David Baron, as always, is a master colorist and it’s a joy to see him at work. I especially love the cinematic quality of the overhead lights in the warehouse scene, and the outdoor scenes (during the bright afternoon and at night). Yusuf Idris is also killing it on art. It’s highly detailed with a loose, stylized feel, and I’m blown away by some of the fine lines in the shading and cross-hatching. I also think that the pig masks and wolf masks at the auction were very well done, and they offer a creepy fantasic vibe with obvious symbolic overtones.
I’m very satisfied with this issue, and I look forward to seeing where they take the story over the rest of the mini-series. I’m hopeful that they can continue to build on the solid foundation of the first two issues and deliver a compelling mystery story. I also still hope that they get a chance to explore the sci-fi ideas, which have so far been more of a backdrop. I would recommend this to any fans of sci-fi mystery stories, and/or cyborg bounty hunters.

Our Score:


A Look Inside