Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Justin Aclin
Artist/Cover: Nicolás Daniel Selma
Review by Eric Owens
How do you fight what you know doesn’t exist? The answer, it turns out, is with bullets full of doubt and a robot named Robot. At least that’s the answer according to S.H.O.O.T. First, Dark Horse’s new comic about a group of non-believers tasked with saving the world from creatures who aren’t what they seem.
Aclin takes us through the standard first issue checklist of meeting the team, adding a new member as an entry point for the reader, learning about their mission, and so forth. That formula is common for a good reason, and when it’s executed well can give enough information and reveal enough of the concept to intrigue the reader without giving too much away. That’s exactly what happens here.
S.H.O.O.T., if you were wondering, stands for Secular Human Occult Obliteration Taskforce. From their super secret science base beneath Dubai, they track down “outside actors” who take the form of angels, demons, jinn, and other creatures of the world’s ideologies. These O.A.’s have been manipulating humanity for millennia, feeding off of people’s faith. With religion on the decline, the outside actors are taking desperate measures to preserve their source of food.
Leading the team in the field is Mrs. Brookstone. She has a young son who’s at that age where children ask questions with uncomfortable answers. So far at least, there doesn’t appear to be a Mr. Brookstone in the picture. Backing her up are Bett and Lord Byron, who talks exactly as you’d expect from a comic book character with a name like that, a multihued mohawk, and a Union Flag sewn on his pants. They’re assisted by their field tech Kenshin and the aforementioned robot. There’s a great team dynamic at work that makes much of the info dumping feel like natural parts of how they operate. Everything comes together smoothly even if that’s not quite how their mission goes.
The conflict between faith and science is obviously central to the story, but it isn’t as simple as it first seems. Sure, the jinn and angels are presented as something other than what they claim to be, but then what exactly are these outside actors? During the issue’s main action sequence, it’s established that they’re fighting in a sort of pocket dimension as a result of the attacking “jinn.” Later, Kenshin, explains that they bullets they fire actually work by channeling the psychic energy from their doubt and anger. While that might not necessarily be supernatural, it’s definitely some weird science.
The art team of Selma and Marlac complement each other well. Selma uses a thick line on his characters, giving an effect something like layered cels in animation. The colors on the characters tend to be brighter and less textured than those used elsewhere. While the end result looks great and the characters are crisp, the environments tend to get lost in the background, if you will. It’s a shame because they’re just as well done as the characters.
It all comes together for an enjoyable story that looks to take the standard monster-fighters team in a unique direction. Don’t blindly follow this recommendation, though. Pick up a copy of S.H.O.O.T. First and weigh the evidence for yourself. Fair warning, the last page is a doozy.
Eric a contributing writer for Drunk On Comics. You can follow him on Twitter at @EricDOwens.