The Fuse, Vol. 1: The Russia Shift collects issues #1-6 of the monthly of the same title. The title refers to the name of a gargantuan space station that is set in a geostationary orbit about Earth. It looks like a cartridge fuse but on a monumental size, populated by an excess amount of Earth’s citizenry.
As you begin reading The Fuse you’ll immediately have a number of questions. The first, of course, is why? Why is this space station up there? How far into the future are we? A minor character in the first few pages states that she’s moving to the Fuse permanently to evade her tax debt, and how is it that she can do that? And given that the story starts with the murder of a homeless person by an unknown assailant, we already have a mystery to go along with those other questions. And all of this happens in just the first five pages!
Then we get introduced to our cops – one old and nearly retired Russkiya, paired with a German wunderkind detective who has requested a transfer to the Fuse. But nobody ever requests a transfer to the Fuse so that begs yet another question: what’s he doing up there?
This is definitely a thinking person’s sci-fi/detective story. You aren’t just thinking about the crime, though. You wonder about every single aspect: the setting is a mystery, the main characters, the socio-political background of this Earth in the future – everything. I was curious about so many aspects of just the environment that at times even the plot became almost secondary! There’s a real sense of world-building about this book that is epic in nature.
The team of writer Antony Johnston, artist Justin Greenwood, colorist Shari Chankhamma and letterer Ed Brisson are the awesome collaborative team that have created this grand adventure. Building a world on this scale takes a tremendous amount of creative effort; just the sight of the panoramic view of the Fuse in orbit is really quite awe-inspiring. To imagine and create a futuristic Earth that can place this monster in orbit and make it a sustainable city is an amazing image and one that forces you to sit up and take notice.
The first story arc told in this volume is wrapped up in six chapters very nicely. It provides an intriguing setting, introduces our main protagonists who are also very interesting, presents a puzzling crime and then solves it, neatly and tidily. And being that I’m still curious about the space station itself, I hope future issues provide some additional background info.
Another thing I really liked about this first volume is the promise of more character-centric mysteries to come. I enjoy Dietrich’s character and remain curious as to why a talented and decorated police officer would want to serve on a no-man’s land like the Fuse. I’m also intrigued by his partner Klem and her refusal to retire at an age when she’s more than earned the right to take it easy.
The Fuse, Vol. 1: The Russia Shift is an overall great read with a mix of the right elements to attract a wide audience. If you like noir, cop stories and unique sci-fi, this book combines them all into one fabulous package.