Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard take us on a new chapter in the life of Bridget Kurtis, the heroine of this police procedural that just happens to be set in space
The fourth book in the collection of Brink strips, originally printed episodically in 2000AD, is the start of a new story arc. It’s a little different to the first story, which was a police procedural that revolved around corporate corruption and drug-fuelled cults. This story sees enforcement officer Bridget Kurtis moved to a different precinct to head up a serious crime unit, but the unit consists of one officer – herself – and the commissioner doesn’t seem inclined to give her anything to investigate. So she finds her own case, which seemingly revolves around a viral video clip that sends anyone who sees it insane. I’m not going to go into any more detail than that – suffice to say that Dan Abnett’s plot develops nicely over the course of the book, with some interesting surprises and plot twists.
The world building of the first book in the series has really taken a step back, with Abnett leaving much of the fleshing-out to the art, focusing instead on the machinations of the plot. As a result, while this obviously remains a sci-if series, the plot could easily be transposed into any setting, so don’t let the sci-fi put you off if you’re more of a cop fan. It also leaves a bit more room for Kurtis’s back story to bubble further to the surface. Rather than feeling over extended or drawn out, this new story helps provide the series with the impression that there is still much to explore.
I.N.J. Culbard’s art is easy to take for granted but it’s as integral to Brink as Abnett’s characters and plot. It’s the assuredness of style that pushes it into the background, but if you pause to drink it in, you’ll notice that there’s a lot going on. Culbard’s trademark colours bring the claustrophobic, artificially-lit atmosphere of a deep space habitat station to life, while he also builds sets, designs uniforms and defines individual characters with such clarity that you barely notice the skill. It all just feels so natural and bedded in place. Only occasional deliberately jarring moments of detail, colour or horror snap you out of your cosy, comic-reading comfort zone, to remind you what a star Culbard is. The quality of his work on this series hasn’t fluctuated over time, and it’s as solid here as it was in the first book.
Could you read this without reading the previous books? I suppose so, yes, but as a series it’s worth the investment. Abnett shows us that he can take his character beyond a single story arc and give her space to flourish and grow. Nothing can better the first book feeling that you get when you find something truly amazing, and this book feels more like it’s striding along, albeit with a well-paced and fascinating rhythm. Don’t let that stop you, though, and if you haven’t already started on the first volume, now’s a great time to catch up.