Review: Dancer by Nathan Edmondson & Nic Klein

DancerAs Alan Fisher sits down for a meal with Quinn, his ballerina girlfriend, he notices incongruities in the environment only a retired assassin would spot. Then the bullets starts flying, innocent bystanders taking headshots from an unidentified sniper, and Alan and Quinn are stalked through Milan, all the way to his apartment, where we catch our first glimpse of their hunter. Somehow, impossibly, it’s Fisher; a younger, fitter, deadlier version. And negotiation is clearly not an option.

You know what you’re signing up for with a Nathan Edmondson comic. Continuing his revival of the espionage genre in comics, DANCER checks off all the boxes with style, if not actual inspiration. All present and accounted for: European setting? Check. Underdog superspy facing off against a younger, better-equipped, and more lethal foe? Yes sir. His lover’s life in the balance? Yup. Vehicular chase scene? You betcha. Pulse-pounding final confrontation? Naturally. A final twist in the tale? Of course. What more could you want from a spy story? DANCER has everything espionage aficionados expect.

Which is, in part, the problem. DANCER lacks the flair of Edmondson’s testosterone-fuelled WHO IS JAKE ELLIS? and the thrillers of THE ACTIVITY. Those series brimmed with innovativeness: a sparkle that set them apart from their competition. While DANCER is stylishly executed, with Nic Klein taking full credit for the art, colors and design, there’s little in this story we haven’t read before. It’s a hodgepodge of stale and dated ideas, which benefits greatly from Klein’s simple illustrations and muted color palette. His panel-to-panel transitions are fantastic, particularly towards the story’s climax, which flits back and forth between both Fisher’s. Edmondson’s script is sparse, allowing the art to handle primary storytelling responsibilities: no caption boxes or lengthy exposition scenes here, to its credit.

Familiar and fleeting, but precision-made, DANCER is a fine addition to Edmondson’s stable of espionage comics.

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