July 6, 2017

Dark Horse Reviews: Bank Shot #1

Bank Shot #1
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Alex de Campi
Artist: ChrisCross
Colorist: Snakebite Cortez
Cover: ChrisCross and Snakebite Cortez

I found issue #1 of Alex de Campi’s Bank Shot to be a bit of an enigma. The opening pages are straightforward and well plotted. Supervising FBI Agent Frank Gault returns from vacation to find his subordinates have triggered a series of unfortunate public engagements that have brought unwanted attention to the Bureau and an ongoing investigation into suspected terrorist Marcus King. King is a man with a far reach, seemingly not to be trifled with, even by those in the higher GS echelons. With his mythos vaguely established, the reader is then treated to an expository flashback that just about derails any inkling of a similarly cohesive backstory for the protagonist.

The culprit in the breakdown of this nonlinear narrative is actually more the art team of ChrisCross and Snakebite Cortez than De Campi’s scripting. Not in the quality of the action depicted, which is surprisingly vibrant considering the limited palette, but in the layout and design choices. As the focus shifts from the drab office setting of the FBI headquarters to the surprisingly more muted, dusty backdrop of and active military operation in North Africa, a pattern begins to develop. While, just as in the Hoover Building, the assembled professionals generally do not receive distinguishing names, ranks, or titles, the similarity of character design in these later panels and general lack of focus on who is speaking to whom makes the dialogue, and at times even the action, hard to follow.

In retrospect, maybe the lack specificity in regard to these characters serves a greater purpose, personifying the unknown, undervalued ranks of Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children. These combatants deployed in external agency, to effect clandestine foreign policy, and feed the military industrial complex in the name of the socioeconomic elite are indoctrinated to value anonymity. It’s just too bad that character is so casually glossed over in this first issue. I feel it is a wasted opportunity to engage the readers with a more indelible foundation. Knowing the lengths to which King would go to protect his associates doesn’t necessarily afford him the moral high ground. When the methods are the same, what’s the difference between the tyrant and the insurgent?

Touches of de Campi’s cynicism bleed through this hurried introduction to the world of Bank Shot. Judging from the first of five, I don’t know that she’ll have the breathing room to tussle with the entirety of the threads she exposes. There is a strong subversive bent here that is timely and intriguing, and I’m curious to see where Bank Shot will run with it. That said, revenge is all about anger and pain, and easily justifiable. Touching on themes of duty and loyalty would do a lot to broaden the appeal and round out the narrative. I’m holding out hope that de Campi has a deeper motivation up her sleeve, but at this point I’m not sure I’m interested enough to find out.

Christian Davenport


One Comment

  1. Iron_Matt

    I’m a huge fan of de Campi and liked this one a little more than I think I should have. The opening few pages were a nice setup to the story and shows how badass this mystery woman is with just showing the damage she can do. The main character isn’t too exciting yet but he does show promise and I’ll stick around for more explosions and great dialogue

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