Review by Ian Keogh
If you’re following Space Boy in the Omnibus format, these are the stories that blow everything wide open, changing the tone from engaging high school drama to thrilling tension as the answers to all the mysteries that have been running in the background come tumbling out. That’s not to say there aren’t new mysteries, one involving the being seen on the cover, the strangest to feature in the series to date, and with an as yet unexplained connection to Amy.
Omnibus 2 ended with Oliver telling Amy they couldn’t have a friendship, this despite his rescuing her from a local thug. Readers know a little more about his situation and his pressures than Amy does, but not much more, and going by the earliest pages she seems to have figured out some things readers may not have pieced together. It’s already been spelled out that Amy’s life is endangered by continuing to investigate Oliver’s situation, and she’s unaware of this.
Readers who’ve befriended the school cast shouldn’t be concerned they’re sidelined. They have a far smaller role after monopolising Amy for so long, but not without their own problems to work through, and one of them is unknowingly endangered by Amy. A second cast are introduced here, though, the FCP, the people monitoring Oliver. Commander Saito has already shown herself as utterly unconcerned about individuals when it comes to protecting secrets, so are the remainder also as heartless?
As throughout, Stephen McCranie’s art is relatively simple in terms of images, but the storytelling is more sophisticated as he relies far more on the characters and what they’re feeling than establishing them via locations. Other creators tackling the same subject might go all out to stamp their vision of the future, but a few technological aspects apart it looks very much like the 21st century. Even much of the technology isn’t that far in advance of what’s already been developed.
By the time this collection ends it’s pretty well been laid out why Oliver is distant and aloof, and why it is that Amy can’t associate a particular flavour with him most of the time. The collection ends with a look at Oliver’s youth, a sequence that continues into Omnibus 4, or Space Boy 10 if you’d prefer the smaller instalments. McCranie’s now a skilled enough plotter to have been laying the ground for some big revelations, but in isolation this is the weakest sequence despite being a prelude to tragedy. However, the remainder is such a thrill ride, it doesn’t affect the overall quality.
This material is also available as the smaller paperbacks Space Boy 7, 8 and 9.