THE FUSE #1/ Written by ANTONY JOHNSTON/ Art by JUSTIN GREENWOOD/ Colors by SHARI CHANKHAMMA/ Letters by ED BRISSON/ Published by IMAGE COMICS
22,000 miles over the Earth floats a space station. It is five miles long, silver and cylindrical. It is technically known as Midway City but they call it The Fuse because of its shape and the orbital power platform it rests on.
Dietrich is a German police officer, newly transferred to The Fuse. Unlike most of the cops who work in Midway City – who were forcibly reassigned there due to one screw up or another – Dietrich volunteered to join the Homicide Squad of Midway City. He is barely off the shuttle from Earth before he is called into duty, as a wounded woman runs past him in the shuttle station and collapses in a bloody heap.
Despite its science-fiction setting, The Fuse is – at its core – a police procedural story. A typical police procedural story where an idealist supercop, who is ill-prepared for the realities of his new position, is shown the ropes by a grizzled veteran close to retirement age. Naturally the two of them grate on one another’s nerves immediately, with the rookie being suspicious of their new partner’s inaction and apathy to the suffering they are surrounded by on daily basis. The veteran, however, doesn’t want some kid who doesn’t know Thing One about “how things really work around here” rocking the boat.
Sound familiar? It should. That’s the exact same set-up of every buddy cop story ever! The only unique elements here are that Dietrich is a black German and his partner, Klem, is an elderly Russian woman. None of these elements alter the story at all and they may as well be called Cop One and Cop Two for all the nuance they possess.
Even the setting seems cliche, with the description of The Fuse itself being reminiscent of the titular space-station from Babylon 5. The culture of this universe was seemingly based on Firefly, only with German substituted for Chinese as the dominant culture/language besides English. They even have a special name for homeless people – Cablers – that calls to mind the Lurkers of Babylon 5.
The artwork for this comic is similarly uninspired. Justin Greenwood’s character designs are rarely consistent from panel to panel. The character of Klem goes through several odd transformations as the issue progresses, with the length of her hair and the shape of her face continually changing. The palette utilized by colorist Shari Chankhamma is similarly problematic, being faded and boring. This may be meant to suggest the muted, washed-out nature of life in Midway City but all it truly does is make everything out to be dull and lifeless.
Nothing speaks to the laziest of this series better than the letter to to the reader at the end of this first issue. Here, writer Antony Johnston admits to his plagiarization of countless cliches as he describes The Fuse as “what happens when you take a British kid raised on Judge Dredd and Sherlock Holmes, infuse him with Miami Vice as a teenager, throw in a dash of Alien and Star Wars, then sit him down in front of a TV and make him watch Homicide, Law & Order, The Wire, The Killing, The Bridge, and god knows how many more shows beginning with a definite article…”
Potential readers would be better served in seeking out any of these books, shows or movies rather than wasting their time with The Fuse.