Review: Cry Havoc #4

cryhavoc_04-1With each issue of Cry Havoc, writer Simon Spurrier has the task of balancing three narratives that, while separate, are directly related. So far readers have met Louise Canton at three points in her life, denoted by location: London, Afghanistan, and the Red Place, with each place falling in this order, chronologically. The story isn’t as confusing as it’s made out to be, kept distinct by Ryan Kelly’s illustration and a legion of colorists.

By now, it’s clear that London was the first part of Louise’s journey, as she grappled with control over her inner monster. Afghanistan has been framed in the context of getting rid of the monster, and the Red Place would appear to be a mission gone FUBAR. The events leading up to the Red Place are still an unknown, but the first three issues ended with images of Lou, pregnant and locked in a cage. This is largely playing catch-up on the series, but it all bears relevance to #4.

With Cry Havoc #4, Spurrier finally discusses the elephant in the womb. (I’d say I’m sorry about the pun, but I’m not.) Lou was decidedly pregnant in issue #2 (and in #1, upon closer examination of the last page) something on which that the villainous Lynn Odell clearly means to capitalize.

Given that the only relationship Louise has been in was with a woman, it certainly seemed possible that the pregnancy was the result of unspeakably awful circumstances. However, Spurrier deserves the faith readers have invested in the story so far. While the events surrounding the pregnancy aren’t ideal, the way in which it’s handled brings the narrative into a clearer time frame.

The story also continues to make some interesting points about how, culturally, stories are valued and told. Other characters continue to develop while the world of inner demons, for lack of a better term, develops.

As usual, one of the highlights of the story is the art. Kelly’s illustration is highlighted in different ways by each of the three colorists, and the palettes begin to blend a little more as each place comes closer to the next in terms of the timeline. Lee Loughridge emphasizes the characters in red hues more than any other aspect of the Red Place, giving the sense that Lynn and Lou are the most important players in the game. Nick Filardi’s London colors but equal focus on the characters and their surroundings, which are most often portrayed in colors that have an underlying blue tone. Matt Wilson’s Afghanistan is a blend of the two–most often neutral, but with some spectacular pops of color that highlight each mythical being in a unique way.

Cry Havoc is still a fun and engaging read four issues in, with solid pacing that reveals enough to both move the story forward and to keep readers feeling like they’re not waiting forever. That said, the endgame largely remains a mystery, as does the fates of many of the characters.

Story: Simon Spurrier Art: Ryan Kelly Colorists: Lee Loughridge, Nick Filardi, Matt Wilson
Story: 8.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

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6 comments

  • Having read each issue, I feel like I would enjoy it more sitting down and reading it in a trade. It would make the split narrative balance out more, I think.

  • Good review. I personally take real issue with a certain element in the comic, specifically:

    “Given that the only relationship Louise has been in was with a woman, it certainly seemed possible that the pregnancy was the result of unspeakably awful circumstances. However, Spurrier deserves the faith readers have invested in the story so far. While the events surrounding the pregnancy aren’t ideal, the way in which it’s handled brings the narrative into a clearer time frame.”

    Lou wasn’t just’ shown as being in a relationship with a woman. She was described in interviews with Spurrier as being a lesbian. Not bisexual or ‘unknown’. A lesbian. So basically what we have here (in full tribute to Ennis’ Constantine) is a ‘lesbian’, who now apparently wasn’t always ‘gay’ (brilliant!) sleeping with a man. Lesbians don’t sleep with men. End of. It’s really tiring seeing that pulled into question, with idiot characters describing themselves as gay and then quickly redefining themselves after.

    It is even more offensive though to have a writer describe a character as a lesbian when they know full well that character isn’t. That is almost questioning the legitimacy of lesbian sexual orientation altogether. These writers will likely be the same ones who’ll find all sorts of ‘creative’ ways to show ‘lesbians’ (not bisexuals) have sex with men. It is actually quite gross and homophobic.

    • I 100% agree with you. I didn’t realize that she was described as a lesbian in interviews. I understand that narratives change in the course of writing, but the pregnancy is a pretty big plot element in the story, and it could have been remedied pretty easily. (I also couldn’t find any example of her saying she’s a lesbian in the comic, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t miss it.)
      It’s fine if she’s a lesbian! It’s fine if she’s bisexual! But it isn’t fair to the readers to say one thing and write another like this–and if she is bisexual, it’s easy enough to say that.
      Last thing–if she’s a lesbian and the guy from the zoo used whatever his mythical aura is to seduce her, that’s a whole other bunch of awful coming into play in terms of stereotypes and rape. Thanks for bringing this to my attention!

      • “(I also couldn’t find any example of her saying she’s a lesbian in the comic, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t miss it.)”

        Lesbian was used in promotion, in the comic she states she’s gay (I think in issue 2) – and it’s actually an assertion of being gay. Which makes the whole thing even more grim as she sleeps with the same guy she ‘asserts’ this to. Apparently when you’re male and you say you’re gay, people will interpret that as meaning you are exclusively attracted to men. But if you’re a woman and you say you’re gay then it’s all incredibly ambiguous and changeable. 1) You may not have always been gay 2) It’s something you can retract at any point 3) You’re inclined to still sleep with men when your girlfriend is mad with you and the plot needs you to get pregnant.

        In reality, women that say they are gay or lesbian individuals (as opposed to fluid, bisexual, pansexual etc.) are doing so with a clearly understood definition of their sexuality. This sort of thing is now just galling:
        http://nerdist.com/si-spurrier-discusses-his-new-image-comics-series-cry-havoc/
        http://talkingcomicbooks.com/2016/01/26/cry-havoc-an-interview-with-si-spurrier/
        https://twitter.com/sispurrier/status/628370543096401922

        Or, as you say, the male character put the mystical ‘whammy’ on Lou and raped her. Anyway sorry for ranting, I really rate your reviews! I did enjoy the comic up until I saw the ‘lesbian’ was pregnant, then I knew exactly what was going to follow.

        • No, yeah, thanks for bringing it to my attention! I was already planning a column on female sexuality in The Discipline, but Cry Havoc would be a good one to talk about too. I’d understand more if something changed during the writing process but this feels more like punishing the lesbian character than anything else. (One last thing–you’d never see a woman seducing a gay male character. *shrug emoji*)