Sunday, June 24, 2007

Ah-ha! Review Revenge!

Another good 'un, from Justin Eger at Silver Bullet Comics:

"The first issue of a series should do one thing and one thing alone: make you want to read the next issue. I don’t care what else goes on, I don’t care who is involved and what they’re doing or why, if you can’t get me to pick up the next issue, you’ve completely failed. I don’t care if you’ve got the coolest plot on earth, you still need to get me involved before the end of 22 pages or you can go to hell.

If that was all Highwaymen did, hell, it’d be worth the read. However, the book exceeds where most new books tend to fail and makes sure that you not only want to read the second issue, you enjoy the entire ride through the first one, enough that you’ll both remember the plot by the time issue two comes out, but also enough that, even if you didn’t, you’d read it again just for that rush that comes with a new find.

And speaking of rushes, people, get on board the bus now, because brother, it ain’t slowing down to let your sorry ass decide. And that’s both a reference to the quality and the story… how often do you get that? It’s a book that makes you think fast and doesn’t care if you can’t keep up. People, it’s a book about fast-talking, fast-thinking, fast-acting couriers with a job to do. If it’s not fast, then it’s nothing.

When the book was solicited as a pair of old-school couriers getting back in the game, I could see the potential. Mix the ill-fated Drive with some Jack Bauer action and you’ve got an idea that can kick some serious butt. However, in this day and age, the book could have become a victim just as easily. Thankfully, writers Marc Bernardin and Adam Freemen didn’t just have a good idea, they had a lot of good ideas, and that makes the book work from the first page on out. Toss in some cool stunts and plenty of really funny talking, not just witty banter, and you’ve got some cool stuff.

And, hey, it’s got Bill Clinton in it. Sure, he’s dead in the book, but it gives you the impression that Slick Willy could have been a much cooler president that we ever thought possible. That alone is interesting enough to carry a book, but the fact that it’s only a minor part of the plot makes you realize just how much detail that the writers put into this before it ever even saw print. Good stuff.

Adding to the mix is artist Lee Garbett, who paces out the story provided by the writers in a kinetic and ultimately appealing way. Lots of driving, lots of shooting, some Mission: Impossible style opening sequences and a couple particularly brutal executions on the parts of parties both good and bad move with a pace that makes you feel like you’re right there in the thick of the action. It feels like you’re watching a good television show or movie, hence my earlier references to Drive and 24.

Maybe that’s something important here, too: The ‘feel’ of the book. Rarely does something click on all levels, but it does happen. When it does, there’s a feel to it. 100 Bullets felt that way, and so did Human Target, two other books that play with the idea of covert operations mixed with furious action and gunplay. The only difference here is that, really, main characters McQueen and Monroe aren’t as morally ambiguous as those other characters. They’re in this for the right reasons, and that’s something they’ve both missed in retirement: doing something just because it’s the right thing to do. That’s a refreshing take that even a few superhero books could do with a dash of.

The fact that they’ll be in a Mustang next issue just adds icing to the cake.

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