Unfinished Business Gold Digger v3 #100
After a surprisingly long delay, issue #100 of Gold Digger v3 is finally here, featuring 48 all-new pages, no ads, and surprisingly, the same price point as a regular issue! So was it worth the wait? Worth three years of build-up and anticipation?
First off, anyone expecting a resolution to the cataclysmic conflicts that have been hinted at since issue #60 will be sorely disappointed. Dreadwing does not make his final strike, Gothwrain doesn't break free of his thralldom, Gina isn't forced to save the universe from the return of the previous universe. There's not much in the way of exploration, either. The true nature of quasi-space isn't revealed, the secret history of the Nomad Artificers isn't discovered, and the mysteries of the Dynasty aren't solved.
Instead, we get a big fight with Kia, a Dynasty fortress ship that has been abandoned in quasi-space and is trying to find its way back to its former masters. Kia has been built up as a real threat over the last five or six issues of the series, and is presented with a backstory that plays nicely off of the family abandonment issues and martyr complexes of some of the main characters, but it's still a bit disappointing to see an anniversary issue which doesn't feature any of the series' established villains (or establish a new villain to menace them).
Practially speaking, I can see why Fred Perry chose to go this route. After all, Dreadwing is the only established villain remaining and if he's defeated, almost every long-running plot thread will have been wrapped up, giving the issue a sense of finality that might backfire. There are no other threats waiting in the wings for their turn in the spotlight. And hey, it is one hell of a fight scene, featuring giant robots, awesome kung fu, clever diversions, and planets used as grenades.
The art is a bit disappointing as well. Fred's character designs and overall drawing style are still appealing, but since the mid-70s of volume 3 Fred has been experimenting with a looser style with sketchier pencils that allow him to spend more time on elaborate coloring. When it works, it's appropriately dramatic and atmospheric. Often, though, the sketchiness of the original pencils highlight the lack of structure in his underdrawing and his poor page composition skills, while the coloring starts to feel like a flashy way of overcompensating for the spare backgrounds and minimal compositions.
Honestly, though, the success of this issue really only hinges on one fact. Does it feature the poignant and tearful reunion of a missing cast member with her family after almost four years of real-world time?
Yes. Yes it does.