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Review: We(l)comeBack #8

WelcomeBack_008_A_MainWith nowhere and no one left to turn to, Tessa and Mali have a big decision to make in the final issue of We(l)come Back. Christopher Sebela and Claire Roe wrap up the series in a satisfying manner, and it’s going to be tough to fill that pull list spot with a comic that has main characters who are equally violent and endearing as Tessa and Mali. (Sebela is, however, writing Heartthrob, with art by Robert Wilson IV and published by Oni Press, which might fill the void.)

Tessa and Mali seemingly exhausted their options around issue #6, when they discovered hiding on trains and killing the people who were trying to kill them wasn’t a sustainable way to live. It did, however, lead them to Tessa’s home in South Africa, where her mother greeted them with open arms and a cell-like room for each.

We(l)come Back #8 finishes out this plot line and neatly rounds out the rest of the story. The lingering questions are answered without piling on the information. Tessa and Mali have had cyclical stories with a distinct path in the timeline of We(l)come Back, and their fates have hung in the balance throughout the entire series. Sebela ends their story (or does he?) in a way that doesn’t feel rushed, despite the number of loose ends that remain at the end of #7. In terms of pacing, this issue is well done, not rushing the end or dumping a resolution on the metaphorical doorstep and fitting with the rest of the story.

As usual, Claire Roe gives each character depth and personality with her distinct style. Her attention to fashion made the story that much more believable as something set in a present time, and small details like Tessa’s jogger/jacket outfits and Mali’s favored boots/shorts combo gave the characters that much more personality. The Sebela/Roe team will be missed for its lively storytelling, and Jonathan Brandon Sawyer’s artistic contributions–the first two issues, character designs, and the incredible covers that grace each issue–will also be missed.

Overall, this issue was a well-crafted end to a wonderful series, and leaves only one question: Will there be a deluxe trade available for preorder?

Story: Christopher Sebela Art: Claire Roe
Story: 10 Art: 9 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Welcome Back #8

Welcome Back #8

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Christopher Sebela
Artist: Claire Roe
Cover Artist: Jonathan Brandon Sawyer
Price: $3.99

Final issue! Tessa and Mali begin their counterattack against the forces behind the never-ending war.


Review: We(l)come Back #7

stl000686Christopher Sebela’s We(l)come Back is, well, back with issue #7, and the series keeps getting better. The latest issue picks up essentially where #6 left off, with Tessa and Mali being chased by hordes of people attempting to kill them. So, the usual.

We(l)come Back #7 takes Tessa and Mali to South Africa, where they hope to hide from the army of sequels that’s ever on their tail. This issue is one of the best yet, balancing exposition and action. Readers learn more about Tessa’s upbringing and life before the series, while other characters are introduced with greater purpose. In light of Tessa and Mali’s decision to walk away from the war, they started themselves on a dangerous path, and all of the plot threads are finally coming together to weave a bigger picture.

It’s also worth noting that the development of Tessa and Mali’s relationship is one of the best constants in the series, and the time that Sebela takes to develop it a little more each issue emphasizes its importance. Despite everything going on around them, their relationship is healthy and unwavering. It’s a nice change of pace, especially for two non-straight characters, who often don’t get the kind of happiness Tessa and Mali experience. This could, of course, all change at a moment’s notice, but the story that’s built up around Tessa and Mali’s current incarnations and the relationship they’ve developed over a number of centuries are what make the series special.

Claire Roe’s art is the same expressive style that continues to grow with the story, and colorist Jeremy Lawson brings the pages to life with some gorgeously colored panels. (The two-page spread covering pages four and five is especially fun to look at.) One thing that Roe has done and continues to do exceptionally well is fashion. The clothes each character wears could absolutely believably be an outfit seen outside of the comic, and small details like giving Mali a sleeveless lace blouse and Tessa elastic cuff pants gives the story an added element of believability.

Overall, the issue is one of the strongest of the series so far. This issue introduces some new characters to the mix, gives the story a clear direction, and is an absolute must-read as part of the series.

Story: Christopher Sebela Art: Claire Roe
Story: 8.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Read

BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

Preview: Welcome Back #7

Welcome Back #7

Writer: Christopher Sebela
Artist: Claire Roe

Mali and Tessa head to South Africa, Tessa’s homeland, to hide out from the army of Sequels chasing them.


Review: We(l)come Back #6

WelcomeBack_006_A_MainMali is on the run again in We(l)come Back #6, but this time, it’s not from Tessa. Rather, she and Tessa are running from the sequels attempting to kill them, a chase that’s shaping up to be marathon-levels of, well, running, with some guns thrown in for good measure.

Officially in the second arc of the story, writer Christopher Sebela and artist Claire Roe have seemingly returned with more confidence than ever. In the first arc, the story certainly wasn’t lacking direction. It had, in fact, several directions with any number of possible outcomes. With We(l)come Back #5, the narrative was shaped into something more definite, and #6 starts Mali and Tessa down a solid and extremely dangerous path.

This issue is equal parts action and information. As with most of the series, it is told from Mali’s perspective. There’s a little bit of a time jump between the previous issue and this one, but Mali’s narrative is a good segue to the present. The action is similar to scenes from previous issues, but with the added bonus of further insightful monologuing from Mali. One interesting thing about this comic is that fight scenes provide the most introspective commentary about the characters. In Mali’s world, she is most herself where she has been someone else: in battle. This makes for an interesting juxtaposition in a comic where so much of the focus has been on individual choice over expectation. The last arc was more about Mali trying to develop an individual identity outside of her past. So far, this arc continues the theme of self-questioning, but in a way that means focusing on the future rather than the past. 

Significant time is dedicated to further developing Tessa and Mali’s relationship in this issue. There are a few delightful moments of backstory involving the two. While they have known one another for centuries, their story in the modern age (the age in which the readers know them) spans a very short amount of time, making it necessary to flesh out their unique relationship (literally and figuratively).

While the Sebela took on these tough questions in the writing, artist Claire Roe had the task of bringing action to life. The art in We(l)come Back #6 was still the same clean style seen in #5, but just as the story hit a strong stride, so did Roe. This isn’t to say that the art in #5 was bad–quite the opposite–but Roe has seemingly gained confidence with each issue.

Sebela and Roe are a strong team, and We(l)come Back continues to amass intrigue. It does, however, leave Tessa and Mali with backs against the wall at all turns, begging the question of what could possibly come next.

Story: Christopher Sebela Art: Claire Roe
Story: 8.0
Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.75 Recommendation: Buy

BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

Preview: Welcome Back #6

Welcome Back #6

Writer: Christopher Sebela
Artist: Claire Roe

Mali and Tessa are on the run from the Sequels trying to take them out.


Preview: Welcome Back Vol. 1 TP

Welcome Back Vol. 1 TP

Author: Christopher Sebela
Artists: Jonathan Brandon Sawyer, Claire Roe

Mali and Tessa have lived hundreds of different lives throughout time, caught up in an eternal cycle as they take part in a war so old that neither side remembers what they’re fighting for anymore. As Mali wakes up in her newest life, she suddenly becomes self-aware and starts to question everything, especially why she continues to fight. But elsewhere, Tessa is already on the hunt… Collects issues #1-4.


Review: Welcome Back #5

WelcomeBack_005_A_MainChristopher Sebela’s Welcome Back has returned to stores with its first new issue since December. The first trade, which collects issues #1-4, is also now available in stores.

The first few chapters of Welcome Back stand better as a trade. While the first issue introduces an interesting concept (reincarnated assassins kill each other over and over in an unending war) it is text-heavy without explaining much of what’s going on. That said, the next three issues seem to hit a stride that makes the story easier for readers to understand, because the readers learn with the characters as they learn more about their past and present.

Issue #5 features more art from Claire Roe, who took over for Jonathan Brandon Sawyer about one and a half issues into the series. (Sawyer’s Twitter still lists him as an artist on the series, so we may see his return in the future.) As with any artist change, it’s a little jarring to see two styles side-by-side, especially in the same issue. Sawyer did a great job of giving Mali a distinctive style and nailed a grungy punk look that would make The Misfits proud, where Roe brings a cleaner style to the table.

This style does make the action sequences a little easier to process, but there isn’t as much action in the newest issue as Lorena hunts for Mali. As with previous issues, the reader discovers as the characters do, and Sebela plays the suspense card well in making everyone wonder whether Mali and Tessa are alive or alive again.

Because the necessary exposition is out of the way, Welcome Back #5 stands much better on its own than its predecessors. Since it was originally meant to be a limited series, it will be interesting to see where and who the story and characters of Welcome Back will be next.

Story: Christopher Sebela Art: Claire Roe
Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read, but try the whole first volume

BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Welcome Back #5

Welcome Back #5

Writer: Christopher Sebela
Artist: Claire Roe

With Showtime at her side, Lorena sets out to find Mali—but is she still Mali, or has she reincarnated into a new life?


Preview: Welcome Back #4

Welcome Back #4

Writer: Christopher Sebela
Artist: Claire Roe

Tessa and Mali come face-to-face in search of something different from when they began.


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