Monday, January 14, 2008

2 Guns #5

2 Guns is your prototypical heist tale. It’s the story of a pair of thieves with high expectations, brass balls and complicated histories. When they target a mafia money-laundering operation, this duo thinks they’ve found the perfect crime: big money, a single location, next to no police presence. Naturally, things don’t exactly go according to plan…

Writer Steven Grant has created a complicated plot here, but he hasn’t done a great job of catching new readers up on the proceedings. I’m sure if I had the whole story, (or even part of it) the long conversation around the midway point of this issue would have meant a lot more, or the peril that the main characters find themselves in moments before that would have been a bit more strenuous of a read. Without the assistance of so much as a “previously in” blurb, I had to resort to the Boom! website to catch up… albeit fleetingly.

Grant’s characters are nicely developed and relatable, although I don’t think they’re quite as charming as he intends them to be. He’s dropped them into a fine mess, but I’d take issue with the intelligence of anyone who’d find a heist from the mafia to be a safe bet, and once I filled in some blanks it was interesting to see their attempts to work their way out of it. While his pacing is a bit off, (the story constantly jumps from pure action with zero dialog to lengthy monologues without an inch of movement and back again) at least he’s never boring. And when the action scenes get moving, they really bring the goods.

Artist Mat Santolouco brings a flavor to the table that’s completely his own, which is something that’s becoming increasingly hard to find in an artist. His work is clearly animation-influenced, in that it’s excessively simplistic and leaves much of the shading and depth of the visuals to the colorist, but he also doesn’t shy away from detail when it’s necessary. When it isn’t, which is more often than not, he almost always takes the opportunity to tell the story through negative space. I’m not sure if it was Santolouco’s artistic choices or the remarkable shortage of word balloons at the outset of this issue, but that constant presence of dead space quickly becomes a big part of 2 Guns’s identity.

Naturally, when a significant portion of the story is told without narration, the weight on the artist’s shoulders increases twofold. Santolouco flourishes in the spotlight, and his contribution during those nearly silent first few pages is the best of the issue. He can tell a fine story through artwork alone, through both the natural progression of the scene and the facial expressions and natural reactions of the cast. When he’s stuck with talking heads, though, as he is for a few pages in the middle of the issue, all of that vanishes. I guess there are only so many ways you can draw two guys in a mini van having a heart to heart.

As far as conclusions go, this one is pretty brisk. When the shit starts to hit the fan, it makes a mess pretty quickly and before I knew it, things had coincidentally sorted themselves out. Maybe in trade paperback, this would be a better experience... but as an individual issue, you won’t know heads from tails without a pretty lengthy explanation. The artwork ranges from pretty good to outstanding, but the story is a bit too complicated for my taste. Borrow this from a friend if possible, but don’t be in any kind of a rush. It’s good, but not great.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 7

No comments: