Welcome back to another Jump Leads chapter review! The Jump Leads creative team finished Chapter Five several weeks ago, and now that I've read through it, I'm here to give you the lowdown. If you're not up to speed on Jump Leads, I do recommend reading through from the very beginning--it's a good comic. Fortunately, Jump Leads chapters are fairly self-contained and semi-episodic in nature (at least so far!), so if you want to plunge right in with Chapter Five, it should be easy enough to get your bearings.
The chapter begins with a fresh change of scenery. Llew and Meaney land their jumpship in a tropical forest, which provides a nice visual change from the steely blues and metallic interiors of previous dimensions, at least for the first half of this issue. The jungle is detailed and lushly rendered--no surprise there, as Jump Leads has showcased strong artwork from day one. Run-ins with yellow-suited patrolmen quickly reveal that Llew and Meaney are not alone on this tropical island: far from it.
This chapter introduces a villain to the comic. General Donald Gray is a one-time conqueror of the world who returned political rule to its original holders when he grew bored of his newfound power. Now, like a martial artist who lives for the thrill of the fight, he develops elaborate schemes while giving himself deliberate handicaps, and foiling his plans has become a training exercise for field agents. Gray is a truly bizarre villain. Time after time, his character pokes fun at sci-fi concepts and conventions by parodying and subverting them:
General Gray, with his cliche-laden plans straight out of a James Bond film, appears rather eccentric and harmless. Right?
Until he gets his hands on jumpship technology, that is. With the realization that there is an entire multiverse out there waiting to be conquered, Gray decides to get back in the game. Cue the obligatory ominous music: dun dun dunn!
Jump Leads is as much a comedy as an adventure series, and even with the threat of a new villain, this chapter maintains a humorous tone. Llew gets his turn with the shoulder-angels, and while the "manifested crisis of conscience" trope is a bit played-out, here it's executed with enough wit to keep it entertaining. The script delivers several clever lines, such as Meaney's parting threat in the last four panels of this page, and the absurd contrivances by which our protagonists escape capture had me busting a gut more than once. General Gray is a truly ludicrous villain, but by the end of the chapter, we're ready to take him at least as seriously as we take Meaney and Llewellyn.
This chapter is one of the strongest so far, in terms of the potential it opens up for the comic series: in my estimation, rivaled only by Chapter Three. The Jump Leads creative team is already bringing out Chapter Six, so I'm eager to see where they take things from here. At this point, I don't think you need to be told--I'm sold.