In this review of Pine and Merrimac #2, Linnea and realize that the search for a mixing girl may turn out to be bigger than either expected.
Pine and Merrimac #2
Written by: Kyle Starks
Art: Fran Galan
Main Cover: Fran Galan
Variant Covers: Rebeca Puebla, Tula Lotay, and Fran Galan
Release Date: February 7, 2024
This review contains spoilers.
I first mentioned Pine and Merrimac when its first issue released last month. It seemed like a decent start to a story that had a decent mixture of history in introducing our main characters, light comedic banter as they dealt with the rage of the ex-wife who lost everything after being find as a cheater, and a mystery to end the issue. It was a perfect setup to get readers into the next issue.
Pine and Merrimac #2 picks up with that same comedic banter, but immediately pivots to what readers want to see most – the mystery of the missing girl who looks similar to Linnea’s late sister. We see her trapped at the end of the first issue. It’s not clear how much time passes between issues 1 and 2, Kyle Starks quickly moves us along to the Kents making their way across to the island that the bikers revealed they brought the girl to. They do so by hitching a ride on a boat one night with Jody, who we met last issue. I have some thoughts on this character that I’ll discuss later.
Once they’re on the island (sans their boat captain), action almost immediately picks up. The find an eerie-looking camp. A gunman accosts them before Parker quickly takes him out. Once on the grounds, they find multiple empty cells, which lends to Parker’s fear of finding something related to sex trafficking. To add to the mystery, they find themselves facing a huge symbol similar to the one on the matchbook they took off one of the bikers. As they hide from more henchmen, they overhear that the girls (yes, plural) were moved because of fear that the heinous hideout had been compromised by the bikers possibly spilling the location on the island. They were all killed because of it. Tomorrow’s event will now happen at the Chancellor Hotel.
It’s funny watching Linnea get each mention of the word “murder.” As mentioned in the first issue, it’s part of the reason she gave up being a police detective. Yet, here she is, getting sick again and almost getting herself and her husband killed. I’m not certain if Starks meant for this to be funny or not. However, this leads to helping moving Pine and Merrimac #2 along.
Linnea and Parker make it to the dock on the other side of the island and are able to escape due to Jody somehow making it there after he “heard gun shots.” At this point, I really begin to think more deeply about who Jody truly is. After claiming earlier that he wouldn’t go to the said dock, that’s exactly what he does, just in the nick of time to rescue to Kents. He’s also somehow able to convince Linnea to dump her phone, which had all of the photo evidence that they found on the island.
For someone who doesn’t believe in coincidence, this clearly has me asking why? Jody is truly the most interesting character of the story thus far. Unlike the other characters whose intentions, good or bad, are clear. The same can’t be said of the army surplus store owner. I foresee a swerve with him. By the time Starks gets us to the end of the story, Jody has somehow convinced Linnea that she needs to dump her phone – the phone with all of the evidence of the things happening on the island. That’s not a coincidence.
The final layer added to this issue comes the introduction of US Senator Jay Lockridge who is preparing to announce his campaign for president. Issue #1 noted that Jamesport gave birth to three previous U.S. presidents. The kickoff event will occur at the Chancellor Hotel – yes, that Chancellor Hotel. By the time the issue ends, we learn Lockridge is deeply involved in the over-arching story.
Kyle Starks finishes Pine and Merrimac #2 setting up a lot of questions to answer throughout the rest of the series. What exactly happens on the island? How deep does the conspiracy go (I’m wholly convinced that Jody is involved until proven otherwise). What is it that Jay Lockridge feels he earned? Does it tie to any of the past U.S. presidents that came from Jamesport? These are all questions I’m interested in seeing answered. Starks impresses me with how he has laid so much groundwork in this issue alone.
As much as I enjoyed Starks story in this issue, I enjoyed Fran Galan’s art even more. I first noticed his artwork in an early edition of Mutiny. While I am always a fan of vivid colors, Galan color work doesn’t do it here, save a few pages. The splash page where Linnea and Parker discover the symbol hanging was the loudest. I’m a big fan of the neutral palette he uses on the non-night pages. It allows to reader to flow through the story without getting too distracted.
Let me be clear in saying that the pencil work is great as well. I see so many different styles in Fran Galan’s work. It ranges from a touch of manga to traditional style. But it’s all very good. The artwork helps moves the story along in an enjoyable way.
Going into issues #3 next month, I’m hoping we start to get a few questions created in this issue answered. While there is time to tie up those loose strings, I prefer the current pacing where things are truly moving forward. The quick action in Pine & Merrimac #2 does a great job in keeping me interested in the story. The pace is really good. The art is a tad bit better.
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