It's been a long time coming, and here we finally arrive at the confrontation between Orson and Carter, handled well from top to bottom. We get a few pages to build the tension, and then when they finally notice each other, the shit hits the fan in pretty much every possible way. Orson is laid flat by his old friend a few times in a row, and their scuffle allows the other kidnappers to make off with Tara. Inevitable stuff, maybe, but paced intelligently and given a lot of emotional depth by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso, both.
Risso delivers some of the best individual panels of the series so far. Orson leaping through the air to protect Tara was powerful in spite of its size, and the scene of Ottershaw eavesdropping as his colleagues plan his murder is heartbreaking. The smear of blood on his face, the strangely-angled lighting, the awkward and crumpled frame of a man who knows his time is up. If there's one thing Risso has down pat, it's this kind of evocative character moment, and because Spaceman #7 is such a significant beat in the story for so much of the cast, he gets to draw a whole lot of 'em.
Azzarello, for his part, seems to be more comfortable with his strange, stilted futuristic language here than ever before. I guess some of that must be me getting used to it, but I think it may also have to do with the emotional weight of the events of this chapter. In the flashback scenes, Orson and Carter discussing their current predicament is enhanced by their bizarre, limited vocabulary. It's not exactly groundbreaking, this notion of a group killing one of its members in order to protect the rest, but the overwhelming sadness and difficulty of it all is underlined by the brevity and bluntness with which these characters hash it out. What could and would normally be a long debate on the morality of the situation is boiled down to two pretty quiet pages of sad, simple men agreeing to something they both abhor.
As Spaceman enters its final act, forces collide and the sadness of this already-bleak future is intensified. In Orson, Azzarello and Risso have built a lonely character living in a lonely world, and as his new friend is lost to him, an old one arrives only to become an enemy. It's depressing stuff, yes, but because of his earnestness and kindness, Orson somehow remains, to my mind, a character of hope. He may be at a low point now, but he's still in the game, and I take solace in that.