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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Our Contributor, Darryll Robson, takes a look at the latest issue of Jackpot from Ray Fawkes and Aftershock Comics.
Aftershock Comics are adding more and more interesting titles to their catalogue, attracting some very big creators to their mix; take for example the announcement of Warren Ellis and Phil Hester’s new title Shipwreck. However, the latest issue of Jackpot has just hit the shelves and garners some attention.
Imagine if you could physically alter the world around you, fix the game so to speak. Dominique Vasko has just discovered that this is something she can do although her control over it is questionable.
Armed police storm the building where Dominique and her crew’s latest venture has gone south. It looks grim for the four of them that couldn’t escape, but nothing can prepare them for Dominique’s sudden magic like powers. As the world literally bends around them there appears to be an element of time manipulation, or at least enforced memory recollection.
Each of the men experience a moment from their past which is heavily influenced by Dominque’s presence. Each memory tells the reader something about the person whose memory it is but also, and probably more importantly, something about Dominique. We learn she is strong willed, honest with her friends and a force to be reckoned with.
When the magic is over, and Dominique has collapsed under the weight of her newly discovered talent, the rest of the crew resort to their old tactics to escape. And they nearly make it. Unfortunately for them the secret illuminate have need of Dominique….
This is an action packed issue that weaves time and space through the narrative, the script and the art. Ray Fawkes opens the issue with a world twisting, crazy few pages then throws the reader into a modern Dickensian scene with Dominique playing the part of the Artful Dodger to Tam’s Oliver. Fawkes continues to do this through the rest of the issue, mixing up a recognisable real world with a secretive magical world so that as a reader you don’t get to find your feet. This is exactly what the central characters are going through in this section of the story; none of them know what is going on and that disorientation bleeds through the script and visuals.
However, all of this action is just a clever cover up for Fawkes characterisation. Just like in the first issue where the writer uses a simple confidence plot to introduce the reader to the characters, in this issue he is using this sudden tornado of magic to develop those characters further. Fawkes is sneaky like that. Through the forced memories the personalities of the central cast shine through. Even Felicia, who manages to stay away from the action, is allowed to grow into her role. Her initial instinct is to cut her loses and run but her better nature takes over. Her comradery for the team means she doesn’t go too far away and is on hand when she is needed.
The most impressive scene in this issue is a Mexican standoff which Dominique has complete control over. This moment highlights the contradictions in her character as she acts completely in control but shows an abandonment of self-preservation. Fawkes gives her an authoritative voice while the artist, Marco Failla, makes her the focus of each panel. There is no doubt who is in charge in this scene.
The Mexican Standoff also helps to highlight the wonderful work of Stefani Rennee, the colorist. On these pages the panels are dark and shadowy, illustrating the espionage element of the story. But flip back a few pages to the garish reds of a casino or forward to the mundane greens of an apartment block and it becomes apparent how much the setting of the scenes is important to the narrative. Each sequence is used to tell the reader something about the characters within those scenes and this is achieved by layering the script and the art in such a way that the character stands out on their particular pages.
And it would be a crime not to mention the cover by Brian Stelfreeze. It is, like each of the previous covers, a beautiful work of pop art that captures the tone of the pages inside. It stands out, not only because of its simple and striking color scheme but also because it looks so different to everything else on the shelf. Possible only Paper Girls from Image Comics can rival it.
Just as this issue’s story twists through time, the overall narrative of Jackpot is weaving through genres, not allowing the reader to be comfortable in this world. This creates an exciting sense of mystery that draws you in deeper and deeper making the wait for the next issue that much harder to bare. The creative team of Fawkes, Failla and Rennee have produced a rich, full filling comic bound in the beauty of Stelfreeze’s covers.
Darryll Robson is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Occasionally he might use his Twitter account: @DarryllRobson
The creators of Jackpot have produced an intriguing, exciting, genre traversing adventure that you simply can’t put down.