Review by Ian Keogh
A Second Chance at Sarah throws readers right in at the deep end as we see Johnny making a deal with some unknown force. He’s flung back to 1995 and has a limited time to convince a girl who doesn’t yet know him that making a deal with the devil is not a great idea.
It’s a fantastic idea for a story, though, and all the time we’re watching Johnny in the past, hanging over it is that the devil has let him go back, so what does that say about his chances of success? Sarah back in the day is seemingly a very different person from the woman Johnny later married, provocative and reckless, so how does he go about saving his future? Should he appeal to her better nature by being honest with what to her will sound a whole festering pile of nonsense, or should he find another way?
Neil Druckmann comes to comics from video games, and Johnny’s predicament has a definite hint of the puzzle-solving approach games require. He shifts preconceptions nicely, as we learn what Johnny doesn’t know with his wife in a coma just after childbirth, and keeps throwing in further complications. For all that, though, A Second Chance at Sarah never comes alive as it should. Part of that is down to artist Joysuke Wong, who’s very good with a static painted picture, but not at home with movement or detail, so much of the story consists of people talking in very plain locations. Some pages buck this trend, showing imaginative design, but looking like colour storyboards.
However, it’s not just Wong at fault. Druckmann doesn’t maximise the dramatic potential. Too many minor characters do what they need to do to make the story work, rather than what they actually would do under the circumstances. The primary culprit is Johnny’s father, but there are others. It leaves this an okay read, but a story that could have been better exploited.