Bang! #1 Review

by Jay Hill on February 19, 2020

Written by: Matt Kindt
Art by: Wilfredo Torres
Colors by: Nayoung Kim
Lettered by: Nate Piekos
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

Thomas Cord, MI-X’s most dangerous spy, is hunting down the sinister “Gold Maze” group. He’s no stranger to this clan of villains, but exactly how long has he been fighting them? If he’s only 30, how does he have memories of taking them down in the 60s? Who is Thomas Cord really? This question leads the agent down a rabbit hole of revelations that may shatter his perception of reality altogether.

Coming from Matt Kindt, the mind behind Mind MGMT, promised that this comic had a chance to get pretty trippy, and this first issue wastes no time in establishing this story’s experimental nature. On multiple levels, this is a meta-narrative. The obvious connections to spy novels and films could be made from the outset, but it doesn’t stop there. The character of Thomas Cord features some traits seen as cliché for a spy in fiction, but from the first page, it is made clear that he is literally a spy in fiction. And, throughout the issue, that story-in-a-story element is explored even more and will become a pivotal role to play in the series going forward. This feels like one of those “Why hasn’t anyone done this before.” ideas. James Bond’s ever-changing appearance has sparked many theories and debates, but this comic takes that idea and says, “What if there was a reason behind that”. But this issue brings more to the table than exploration or explanation of why a spy would keep the same name but change appearance. This story delves deeper into fictional characters and identities. Kindt’s comic Folklords is also tackling a meta idea, and as I’ve learned with that book, it’s easy to think you know what’s coming when the starting place is somewhere familiar but with Kindt, it is never safe to judge a book by its cover, or even 24 pages.

On the whole, this is a well-paced, well-executed, and very interesting introduction issue. The pages of prose that frame the issue added a great feeling of being pulled out of the comic world and immediately sparked questions. The pages were also written with the cheesy tropes and purple prose of the genre it was mimicking. The first segment was great and lead to a brilliant and startling title-page. I enjoyed the use of Cord’s narrations throughout the comic. It gave us insight into his thoughts and how he was starting to struggle with his identity. The entire issue flowed and wasted no time to get to the meat of the story. The ending and glimpse we were given of the “deeper” reality of the story are already beginning to subvert my expectations. The places this comic can go are interesting, and the places it has already gone are enough to assure I'll be back for more.

Wilfredo Torres’ art has a nice style. The neat lines seem to be used where needed to add just the right detail to an image while feeling misleadingly simple. In close up shots the intricacy of the lines is apparent (like in that great title shot), but everywhere else just enough is detailed to define the visuals crisply. The sleek and stylish nature of the “spy story” is captured perfectly. The opening boats and bikinis vibe and the later slopes and skis scenery feels like the type of locations that a film would choose and show the versatility of the art. There is also an intangible nature to the art that can achieve the aura so well. The sleek suit Cord wears in the mountains, the mouth of the gas spewing automaton, and the multitude of shots set in the past have an invisible beauty to how close they feel to the style they're is trying to capture. And, the psychedelic scene (classic Kindt) was the icing on the cake. That scene also had great colors by Nayoung Kim which brings me to one of my favorite parts of the issue: the palette. Every hue Kim used in this comic has a special quality to it that feels fresh. And the way it controls a scene like in the opening where there's a great use of white and grey that gets disrupted by other colors to affect the action is an example of how coloring is used best in comics.

In its first issue, Bang! proves to be more than just another spy tale. With its reality-bending narrative, this isn't going to be "What if James Bond was a codename?" the comic. This is going to be an excursion into the identity of fictional characters. We might need to build new walls because this comic has broken more than just the fourth.

Our Score:


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