The penultimate issue of Brother Lono shows signs of improvement as actions begin to have permanent consequences. Unfortunately, it’s still hampered by the lack of propulsion and characterization throughout the series, so far, making for a better than normal, but still lackluster comic.
The biggest problem with Brother Lono up until this point was a lack of cause and effect in the storytelling. Things continually happened, but there were no long standing consequences. That is no longer true and it helps the series make significant strides towards improvement. Characters are placed in very bad situations because of what they choose to do, and not all make it out alive. There are some deaths in this issue and the most significant one is related directly to a choice that character makes, for better or worse. If more time had been spent cultivating empathy for the cast of this title, then the consequences in this issue could have had an incredible impact. As it stands, they are still significant enough to muster a reaction.
Eduardo Risso’s art, as always, enhances this issue and the character beats it contains. The description of both of the character deaths in this issue (that last one wasn’t a character, it was a prop) adds a real sense of both tragedy and horror. Death in Risso’s hands is not glamorized, it is mundane and ugly. When Lono is being tortured, it is a sickening process. No matter how tough Lono may appear in these moments, the brutal reality of the act is placed before all else. Violence is central to both 100 Bullets and Brother Lono; Eduardo Risso is the force that makes it matter.
There are some improvements in this comic, but it also maintains many of the flaws of previous issues. The identity reveal of Los Torres Gemelas is neither interesting nor unexpected. It’s something that most readers may have thought was a previously established fact considering how many panels in which the “secret” is shown. The conclusion of the issue strikes the same note as both Brother Lono #5 and #6, except this time it’s significant, since there is only one issue left to go. Ending each issue with the promise of Lono breaking his passivity lets this moment fall flat though. The audience is so ready for this to happen that there is no desire for the moment, just impatience.
Ongoing troubles like these leave the first issue with significant consequences hindered by the past. Even the character deaths, beautifully illustrated by Risso, affect minimal reactions as there has been very little empathy evoked for the wide cast in this series. The best character in the series, Lono, was already established in another comic and the best thing the series seems capable of accomplishing, intense, noir violence, has been saved for the final issue.
Brother Lono #7 is an improvement upon previous issues, but suffers from the long-running flaws in the series. A lack of space and time in which to finish the story (only twenty pages left) has forced an increase in narrative propulsion and a series of significant consequences. These changes may allow for the series to end on a significantly more positive note.