Lifetime reader of comics and fan of Planet of the Apes. When the two combine I can barely contain myself. Image, Boom and Titan comics fight for shelf space with Doctor Who DVDs.
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ComiConverse Contributor Darryll Robson reviews the first issue of Aftershock Comics’ new crime story, Jackpot.
The con is on in Ray Fawkes new title, Jackpot, from Aftershock Comics: a comedic, action packed crime story. Aftershock Comics is a new publisher with a collection of genre comics on offer. Jackpot is their crime story, but is it good enough to earn space on an already crowded shelf?
A rigged poker game on a yacht is the setting for this opening issue. All of the major characters are quickly brought into play. First is Tam Malawi, the cool undercover man who is trying to lose convincingly to the ‘mark’. He is arrogant and disrespectful in the face of Eduardo’s criminal wealth and it is more than an act. This becomes clear as the story unfolds. When the game turns sour and ends early, Tam almost loses his control. He is convinced that he was going to win the hand even though he knew it was fixed. His ego will not allow him to be defeated by someone as vile as Eduardo. This character flaw distracts him and his accomplice Dominique long enough that they walk into two gun toting gangsters.
Arguably the central character is Dominique. The brains of the operation, she is nicknamed The Genius and she does all the hard work while Tam plays cards. In her role as ‘rich girlfriend’ she pretends to be flakey, with no idea what is going on. On the surface, she is a depressing stereotype of the usual gangster’s moll, but in reality she is making the scene safe and all the players are actually under her control. While the others are playing cards, she steals the guns away from the body guards and distracts everyone from what is really going. From the moment she reveals herself as more than just a clueless rich girl, she owns the scene and everyone does what she wants them to do. There is no wonder that Dominique is the focus of the secretive organization in the final page.
The rest of the team are made up of: a sharpshooter who is also the getaway man; the break and enter expert who ends up in the most danger when a bomb is discovered in a safe; and the largely underdeveloped card shark who speaks one word and spends most of his appearance in various levels of shock.
With Jackpot #1 Ray Fawkes has used a very simple, recognizable setting to introduce his characters, similar to the approach that Antony Johnston used in Codenam Babuska. There is not very much actual storyline, it is a straightforward con job, but that is not the purpose of this issue. The intention is to introduce the characters and, somewhat more importantly, the style of the comic.
Fawkes makes the reader aware early on that the world he has created is fast paced and flashy. The title captions for the central characters have the feel of an action TV series, think of Starsky and Hutch, and are a tone setter all by themselves. Add to that the interaction in the script that shows the reader who the characters are and their positions within the team. Jackpot is smartly written and has some very cool, snappy dialogue.
Marco Failla’s artwork is the perfect companion to Fawkes’ writing. It’s clean cut and bold with very smooth lines. The figure work has a definition that is pleasing to the eye. There is a criminal sophistication to the ease at which the panels flow across the page, drawing the reader through the story at a steady yet exciting pace.
After reading Fawkes last creator owned title Intersect, a complex watercolor urban horror, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this title, but it is a heart thumping success. Jackpot has all of the action of a modern spy thriller with the sophistication of classic crime stories. This first volume is a thrilling set up for what is sure to be an exciting series.
Darryll Robson is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Occasionally he might use his Twitter account: @DarryllRobson
A great first issue for the new publisher, Aftershock Comics. An entertaining, high-octane crime story bursting with character.