REVIEW: ‘High Level,’ Issue #3

Reading Time: 3 minutes

High Level #3

High Level #3 is published DC Vertigo, written by Rob Sheridan, with art from Barnaby Bagenda and Romulo Fajardo Jr. The series follows Thirteen, a thief and Onida resident, as she escorts Minnow, a child who can bring peace to the post-apocalyptic world, to the city in the sky: High Level. After escaping Black Helix soldiers last issue, the two must make their ways through the Outlands.

High Level #3 opens with world building. Shrouded in some mystery, the world of High Level and the titular city has been slowly coming together. Before this issue, we know that High Level is a city people to go to, specifically to ascend to. It also has many myths attached to it, forced labor or paradise in the sky? The first page of High Level #3 opens with what seems to be an ad for High Level, beautifully colored with small lines of a screen, we are told to be well and be grateful by VTX, the High Level Broadcast Network.

We don’t know where it’s broadcasting from, or when it was broadcasted, but we do know that ascension is being used as a promise to build a more obedient public. This reminds me of the promises often told in science fiction by the state or ruling class that slowly unravel. As a breadcrumb, this cold open works, and lets us know about the place Minnow must return to.

The substance of this issue revolves around Thirteen and Minnow’s evolving relationship. Thirteen is still having serious doubts about Minnow’s supposedly messianic powers but just when all hope seems lost as they wander through the Outlands, Minnow does the impossible to save them both from starving to death in the desert. She raises an old bunker from the ground, opening something that no one can open and proving that Akan wasn’t lying or misguided.

But survival doesn’t mean safety when the pair’s already-harrowing quest to High Level requires a detour through Nibi Outpost, a treacherous smugglers’ network built under the ruins of the old world. They attend a fight and Thirteen’s past actions come back to haunt the pair.

This issue has some action, but it also focuses on the growing bond between our two leads. As their personalities develop, we learn that they are balances to each other. Where Thirteen is cynical, Minnow is hopeful, where Thirteen is looking for necessities, Minnow is looking for comfort. Ultimately, Thirteen is resigning herself to being a guardian, end warming up to the child savior.

But the danger hasn’t left them and Thirteen teaches Minnow a poignant lesson, we don’t kill our demons. They keep whispering our ears, clouding our heads, but eventually we learn to dance with them some.

In High Level #3, the danger of the world is real, and it rivals the comic’s beauty. The art remains some of the best out right now, and the world is being built effectively. Overall, the comic ending a down note is well done. From a narrative standpoint, Thirteen is dealt a loss, unable to protect her friends last issue, High Level #3 shows that the threats she faces, whether soldier or scoundrel are not easily beat. But I am ready to see her try.

High Level #3 is available now.

High Level #3
5

TL;DR

In High Level #3, the danger of the world is real, and it rivals the comic’s beauty. The art remains some of the best out right now, and the world is being built effectively. Overall, the comic ending a down note is well done. From a narrative standpoint, Thirteen is dealt a loss, unable to protect her friends last issue, High Level #3 shows that the threats she faces, whether soldier or scoundrel are not easily beat. But I am ready to see her try.