Friday, June 3, 2016

Review - Bolts #1 (@ActionLabDanger)


"Go, traveler! Before this place falls apart."

A world rife with chaos is one that breeds even more chaos. How people navigate that chaos is what determines who will survive. In Bolts #1 from Action Lab Danger Zone, Frank navigates the world with a chip on his shoulder that everyone is seeking to kill him. The issue is written and illustrated by James Whynot.

During a brutal attack by the townspeople in his own time, Frank is torn apart and loses one of his neck bolts as well as his memory. After Frank's mangled body is pieced back together by a mysterious and powerful being, he is thrown into a new and strange dimension. He suddenly finds himself faced with merciless monsters and the looming watchful eyes of creatures in the shadows. After crossing paths with Casey, a scavenger with a penchant for trouble, Frank doesn't have to fight alone but the road ahead only grows more perilous. Amid all the blood soaked violence, Frank also fights an inner battle of whether to become the spiteful villain or righteous hero of this new adventure!

There are clear influences of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus in Bolts #1, yet Whynot doesn't seem to be hiding from them. In fact, Whynot embraces them for the duration of the story while adding in plenty of additional violence to keep the narrative moving. Frank is learning more and more about the world he's awoken in and what he's learning is that the world views him as a threat and wants to end him. Much of Whynot's dialogue is almost stream of conscious on the part of Frank, but there are other interactions throughout that are much coarser and reflect the animosity towards him. Once you get past the clear inspiration for the story though, you'll find that things are a little murkier and Whynot moves through the tale at such a frenetic pace that some of the events feel a little confusing at times.

Accompanying the tale is Whynot's frenetic artwork. Frank looks like he's capable of holding his own though against the madness and Whynot doesn't shy away from violence when it comes to squaring off against his opponents. The heavy cross-hatching by Whynot gives the characters and extra sense of grit and lends an intensity to the book. There are some instances where that approach works against the book, in that there are a few places where it's really hard to tell what's going on because of the relatively minimalist style. The book also has a manga feel to it, further buoyed by the reliance on black and white for the illustrations accented by reds for effect.

Bolts #1 is an interesting take on a classic. Frank is not one to be trifled with and relies on an innate combat ability to find his way out of situations. Whynot's script facilitates this on more than one occasion, putting Frank in situations that feel dangerous enough where you wonder if he'll survive. Whynot's artwork is equally as grim, presenting a slew of entities out for blood which--conveniently enough--litters just about every page. Bolts #1 is a pretty intense and graphic book, but it does

Bolts #1 is in stores now.

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