I don't know if I will end up reviewing every issue in this series, but I had such a personal reaction to The High Ways #1, that I wondered if the second issue would cause me as much conflict. I didn't give it a negative review, but I couldn't get a handle on the book's hook, and I wondered if my love for John Byrne was getting in the way of viewing it more objectively.
I feel much better about the second issue. Byrne's telling a small-scale sci-fi mystery, something that wasn't 100% clear with the first issue, and I'm in to see how the whole thing plays out. The set-up saw a three-person crew manning a kind-of tow truck spaceship get called out to a remote station on a false alarm. Here, that mystery is expanded upon with flair, as the lead character Sprout unearths deception, alien animal poaching, and mysterious stowaways.
As always with Byrne, the art serves the story. He gets attacked sometimes for a "sameness" to his character types, but I see most artists settle into a couple of types of faces they're comfortable drawing, and stick with those for their whole careers. I'm not sure why Byrne gets grief for it. Of particular note are the two black leads of The High Ways, who provide a solid example of organic on-the-rack diversity. They're black because they can be. Why make them white like every other sci-fi book on the stands? It's a happy kind of progressive, where the creator is thinking outside of their own drawing table for a change.
So, yes, I've come to peace with what The High Ways is offering, and I'm curious to see it through to the end. "Old-fashioned" can sound like an insult these days; so can "quaint," so for lack of a better word, let's call The High Ways...reliable. We can rely on Byrne for a level of competency and professionalism, no matter the project. The High Ways is a reliable space adventure, low on spectacle and high on mystery. I'm in.
(The High Ways #2 is available now.)