Written by: Dan Abnett
Art by: INJ Culbard
Price: £12.99 (UK) $17.99 (USA)
This graphic novel reprints the following stories:
- “High Society” – (Prog 2100 – 2118)
Brink is one of the most exciting and visually satisfying new series to come out of 2000AD, with creators Dan Abnett and INJ Culbard cultivating a tense, claustrophobic police-procedural thriller that deals with the psychological ramifications of a post-Earth humanity living in cramped confines as they drift aimlessly through deep space in giant habitats. Told from the perspective of undercover detective, Bridget Kurtis, Brink explores cult conspiracies and a shared psychosis that foretells apocalyptic scenarios featuring Lovecraftian space-gods. The extent of these “Sect Crimes” has infiltrated all levels of the Junot Corporation, one of the companies responsible for the creation of new habitats, and Kurtis is sent in deep-cover to find out the extent of the madness.
“High Society” introduces another new location for readers, as Kurtis finds herself working as a maid within Junot headquarters, working behind-the-scenes in “smallspace” to clear the corporate meeting rooms (“bigspace”) from any listening devices. This new locale allows Culbard to demonstrate his flair for storytelling, creating panel layouts that emphasise the difference between the narrow walls of the smallspace, and the wide-open spaces of the bigspace meeting rooms. It’s an effective technique, using differently shaped panels to convey a sense of space, and it heightens the cinematic tone of the series. Culbard’s artwork has been consistently amazing in this series, but it hits new heights in this volume with the actual construction of each page contributing to the atmosphere. I have been a fan of Culbard’s world-building since his work on Brass Sun (another fantastic new series from 2000AD, which deserves wider recognition) and he never fails to create captivating environments that draw the reader in.
As with previous volumes of Brink, there is a slow, measured pace to the story which works better in this collected form as opposed to the serialised weekly Progs that the series originate from. Read in one sitting, the story flows much better as the tension begins to ramp up towards the inevitable, chaotic conclusion. While Kurtis was undercover in the last volume, “Skeleton Life”, there seems to be a greater sense of danger as she places herself deep within the viper’s nest, infiltrating Junot Corp’s highest level in an attempt to discover more about the Master Sect’s attempts to turn Galina Habitat into a site for mass human sacrifice. Abnett’s script is thrilling throughout, turning conversational scenes into nail-biting reads as Kurtis attempts to maintain her cover throughout her explorations. The sense of danger is palpable throughout, thanks to Abnett’s script and Culbard’s artwork working seamlessly together to produce the desired effect. The pair appear to have a symbiotic relationship that just demonstrates the wonder of the collaborative process between writer and artist to produce “a whole”.
Up until now, Brink has remained ambiguous as to whether the Sects’ religious beliefs are fuelled by a collective insanity or genuinely influenced by angry Space Gods. Abnett gives readers the first hint of an answer in this volume, and while it may not prove to be definitive, it is certainly a surprising direction for the story to take. It also gives the series some forward-momentum to offset the slow-paced narrative. Abnett’s revelation revisits plot points from the conclusion of the first volume, demonstrating a larger plan and road map for the series by picking up on seeds that were planted way back when. Again, reading the series in graphic novel format helps the narrative flow and makes each instalment feel like a chapter in a bigger book. Three volumes in, and it seems like Brink is heading towards a conclusion with its upcoming fourth volume, although Abnett has not been shy in subverting audience expectations so far.
“High Society” builds upon the previous instalments of Brink to deliver an extremely satisfying third chapter, taking the aspects which made the series popular and raising them up to the next level. The story is complex and mature, and is not the sort of series you can dip in and out of – it feels reminiscent of a binge-worthy Netflix show, rewarding readers for devouring the whole series with a smart, uncompromising narrative. INJ Culbard’s vision of the habitats is breath-taking, and worth the price of entry alone, as he creates some of the most iconic locales seen in 2000AD since The Ballad of Halo Jones. In fact, I would argue that Brink will go down as Abnett and Culbard’s magnum opus, in the same way that The Ballad of Halo Jones is widely considered as Alan Moore’s best 2000AD work. Everything about Brink works, and while it doesn’t have the same high-octane action as other 2000AD strips, it is a cerebral thriller that stands out from the crowd with its neon visuals and stylish storytelling.
Nothing short of incredible, this third volume of Brink achieves the impossible and raises the bar even further with a pulse-pounding story that entertains and excites in equal measure. Fresh and unique, Brink feels completely different to anything that 2000AD has published before, both in terms of its subject matter and its futuristic ligne claire design which gives the series a European feel. If you haven’t read any of the volumes thus far, definitely go and pick up the first book, knowing that it somehow surpasses the awesomeness in that chapter.
Score – ★★★★★
Previous volumes are also available: