February 19, 2020

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Bang! #1 Begins With a Bang


Bang! #1
Written by Matt Kindt
Illustrated by Wilfredo Torres
Colored by Nayoung Kim
Letters by Nate Piekos
Published by Dark Horse

Bang! is a stylish, fun new series that begins as a classic James Bond style spy tale, but very quickly turns into something different. Writer Matt Kindt, artist Wilfredo Torres, colorist Nayoung Kim, and letterer Nate Piekos are telling a story that moves very quickly from genre fiction to metafiction, (including references to Kindt’s on prior work), and is off to a promisingly weird start.
 


The story begins in the world of classic super spy stories. Thomas Cord (a handsome, tough-talking, old school superspy), agent of MI-X, has been captured by members of the sinister organization Goldmaze. They're roughing him up trying to get information, but he escapes with the valuable contents of a briefcase. He makes his way out of the facility onto a boat where he meets an untimely end, But not before he opens up the briefcase to find that it only contains a paperback novel by noted science fiction author Philip K Verve. Cut to a completely different Thomas Cord, in the present day. He’s being sent on a mission to infiltrate Goldmaze and learn why this novel is so important. Cord makes his way into the facility, and is exposed to drugs that shows him things that aren’t possible. He’s only around 30 years old, so how does he remember going on secret missions and fighting against villains in the 60s and 70s?  What’s going on? And what is the connection between Thomas Cord, Goldmaze, MI – X, and reclusive author Philip K. Verve? We’ll have to wait and see.
Matt Kindt is one of my favorite comics storytellers, whether as an artist or writer. My favorite stories of his have been those involving espionage, the supernatural, and weird multiversal, meta-textual elements, where reality is not what you think it is. In stories like Revolver, Super Spy, Red-Handed and more, Kindt explores worlds where everyone has an ulterior motive, and nothing can be taken at face value. Mind MGMT (one of my favorite comics ever, review here) explores the world of a secret Organization dedicated to developing people’s unusual powers and using them to control people and spread disinformation.

What’s really fun about Bang! is that it seems like Kindt is returning to all of these various themes and ideas in a way that will tie many of his stories together. Verve is a character that has shown up in a number of Kindt's stories, and the idea of a world where the creator of stories is able to interact with those characters and characters that are stories in one world are real and another, is one that I’ve enjoyed for a long time. Another one of my favorite examples of this is in the multiversity by grant Morrison and many talented artists.

Bang! is brought to life by the fun, accessible, classic linework of artist Wilfredo Torres. Torres is a talented artist whose work falls in the general school of new classic artists such as Doc Shaner or Chris Samnee. However, Torres has very much his own style. It’s a very clean style, slightly less overtly realistic than the work of some of those other artists, but with terrifically dynamic lines. He's also a fantastic (and economical) sequential storyteller,  Torres' style is extremely well-suited for telling the story of a classic super spy in the vein of James Bond escaping from a group of villainous henchmen. I first came to know Torres work in the comic of Jupiter's Circle (by Mark Millar), about the 50's and 60's heyday of superheroes. It works great in that Silver-Age setting, and works well in Bang! as well, whether in a 60's or modern setting.  Torres is also skilled to bringing to life more psychedelic scenes, through inventive panel layout or other visual cues.
Torres has a terrific artitic partner in Nayoung Kim. Kim brings a bright, engaging color palate to the story. It's an interesting and non-obvious choice.  Torres and Kim together are pretty different from Kindt's own art style. Kindt has a much more washed out, watercolor style of coloring (with his wife Sharlene) and a very rough, analog, dreamlike art style that has often worked with weird, reality-altering stories.  Here, Kim bring a bright, pop-art sensibility to the color scheme throughout the comic, and it's an interesting pairing to a story where reality isn't as real as we think it is.  An flashbacks and when certain dramatic things happen in the story, the art in those panels is presented without any color. It's a striking contrast, and it definitely conveys the sense that something significant is happening. But, knowing Kindt, it may be also providing other visual cues as well. Nate Piekos is a terrific contributor here as well, providing strong lettering and some fantastic, day-glo bright sound effects lettering that really conjures the big, slightly campy, 60's feel of classic Bond movies (and the Batman TV show, for that matter). 

Kindt, Torres, et al., seem to be having a blast so far in Bang! , playing with genre tropes and weaving disparate threads together. If they're having that much fun, I want to join the fun as well, and you should too.  Bang! is off to a promising start.