How does it feel to be an engineering genius who developed three new projects to escape the military base in which he was held to transfer to a life on the beach with a new girlfriend? Unfortunately David Loren doesn’t have much time to bask in his success, because as revealed at the end of volume one, said girlfriend Mirra Sway actually works for the base commander. As upset as he is, it’s a leaning curve for Loren, and the start of volume two sees him back at the base and seemingly knuckling under, developing new projects as the military would like.

Volume one was told almost exclusively from Loren’s viewpoint, his dissection of the military mind funny and cynical, but here Matt Hawkins switches the narrative occasionally, showing us what other people are up to, and how they view Loren. He’s supposedly working on a jaw-droppingly repellent application, the genetic targeting of individual ethnic groups based on their ancestral DNA, and that indicates the shift of tone Hawkins takes. There are still fun moments, but he’s drilling deep into what he considers the ethical redundancies of the USA are, while also acknowledging that other powers are hardly any better.

Rahsan Ekedal’s art has to be clever, providing a counterpoint to the narration. It’s his job to let us know from expressions and posture that contrary to what he’s telling the military supervisors, Loren is far from happy with the situation. Beyond that it’s the art we’ve come to expect, good with other characters, defining locations well, and ensuring the violence remains at acceptable low levels of explicitness.

As Loren’s problems pile up, he’s not necessarily aware of them all, and Hawkins swerves the plot well away from expectation on a couple of occasions, especially with an extreme illustration of what some people perceive loyalty to their country entails. It all contributes to a consistently entertaining series. By the end of volume two, a genie is out of the bottle, and Loren is co-opted into putting it back in, which leads to volume three.