(Dark Horse, 2012-2013)
Review by Brad Gischia
Story by Justin Aclin
Art by Nicolas Daniel Selma
Colors by Marlac
Lettering by Amanda Aguilar Selma
*Very moderate Spoilers
If you haven’t read S.H.O.O.T First from Dark Horse, you have just enough time to jump in before issue 4 comes out next Wednesday. If you’re looking for a fast paced shoot ‘em up story, dipped heavily in the realm of the science fiction fantastic, than this is the book for you.
S.H.O.O.T follows the story of a group of non-believers, not just in a deity but also in any form of otherworldly power at all. The Secular Humanist Occult Obliteration Taskforce, an organization that is holding the basic information that drives the plot of the comic, recruits them. All creatures of myth or religion, angels and demons, fairies, you name it, are actually otherworldly creatures called “outside actors” that need to foster humanity’s belief in them to survive. The series takes the power of an idea and makes it food for creatures that don’t have humanity’s best interests in mind.
The first issue gives a brief portrait of the team and of their abilities. Mrs. Brookstone is the operational leader and has a son, Ray, and a mother to take care of as well as her position on the team. We are introduced to “the infidel” a man who has been battling with his faith and finally loses it entirely while watching the team fight a djinn in the remains of his mosque. Like I said the first time I reviewed this issue, it’s a strong first, and made me want to read more. The beauty of waiting a bit, though it doesn’t help sales numbers (which ultimately helps drive the book deeper into issue #’s) is that now I’ve got the first four to read as a whole, and you get a much clearer picture of the overall story.
Issue two sends the team to Egypt and they fight a giant pyramid creature. Issue three they find that the fairy folk and dragons are as real as the rest. Issue four, well, let’s just say that it is a great issue four, and totally worth the wait.
Once again, I’ll say that the beauty of this book is the mix of a group of anti-religious people face to face with those creatures that their fellow men and women see as the embodiment of the Deity.
How does one fight a God? Could you hold the line of your determined atheism when faced with a wrathful angel, the very physical form of a creature whose existence, according to your belief structure, depends on the existence of the one higher than him who made him and who you look to for guidance? Writer Justin Aclin seems like he is having a ball exploring the possibilities. There are people on the team who have crises of faith. There are those who wish to regain what they once lost. One of the team members is Bett, a girl taken by fairies and suspended at a young age for nearly a hundred years then regurgitated into the present day. She wears what we find is a unicorn horn around her neck. At one point she tears a hole in space and creates a portal with it. What gives the horn power? If Bett is a member of the team, shouldn’t her non-belief make the horn little more than a piece of bone? Or is it the power of others beliefs that give it power?
These are all questions that will be answered in the coming issues. Aclin has created a paradox that it will be a joy to see him write his way out of. And pairing that with Nicolas Daniel Selma’s art, well, you’ve got a winner.
I like the way Aclin is building his characters, and with each issue we see a little more behind the scenes with each of them. It’s been a process that you can see will pay off the more issues we read.
Keep your eyes peeled on the stands at you LCS. Issue 4 hits the stands on January 15th and once again…S.H.O.O.T First…the questions you ask will come later and in more interesting ways than you can imagine.
Follow Brad Gischia on Twitter: @comicwasteland