Hey buckaroos, it's time for Big Shot. Okay, it's not, but you cowboys will feel mostly at home in Isaac Fox and SaYako Rush's Cremisi. I find myself seeing the classic stylings of this manga-styled book. Elements feel so closely aligned to some of the biggest hits out there that I keep looking for Vash the Stampede or Faye Valentine to step into a frame at some point. You'd see a lot more of either of them, though, as this work is exclusively for mature readers, and not just due the the...ahem...bountiful visuals, but also dealing with incredibly deep themes of life and death, guilt, responsibility, self medication, and loss. And sex. With crisp, stunning visuals, the well-built story has enough of a hook to bring you willingly into this Kickstarter-funded publication.
I got to read the first twenty-eight pages, and I can honestly say that I was astonished when I finished. The story moves with such a great pace that you're nearly running breathless through it without feeling like you've been dragged on by a 3-episode Kamehameha powering break. There's a lot to unpack in the first issue, with a big bad dropped quickly in a cold open before we meet our protagonist who cuts the figure of a fairly classic anti-hero. It's the kind of no-rules world where the bad boy certainly entertains with his ability to cut through perceived norms and people's throats at the same time. Aside from Captain Shay, we also have Maria, a lawbringer outside her jurisdiction and hunting regardless, and a ship's AI, both based in typical tropes of the style who nevertheless elevate to be complex and fascinating leads. Outside of these three, we primarily get to see a series of fools who, while not entirely memorable on their own, do provide entertaining butts to be kicked for our enjoyment. The pacing doesn't allow much time for exploration in these street-level fodder, and it's certainly enjoyable watching the facades melt.
SaYako Rush is one crazily talented artist. The pages I got to preview were not only incredibly rendered but absolutely huge. The detail given to every panel is staggering, and he may be one of my new favorite action artists going forward. The speed of the read is due to how clear and communicative the layouts are, with even a quick look giving you everything you need to move the story. For me, it was in the second and third reads that I allowed myself to slow down and really appreciate the nuance within this breathtaking work. The detail and scope give your mind the impression of the fullness of a world, making it incredibly believable to the eye and the mind, and giving even the overly thin, voluptuous, and cat-eared characters a verisimilitude that you don't find in lesser work.
I loved this read, and I think it's pure fun from top to bottom. The team knows their story well, and they especially know how to play in the world they've chosen to inhabit. I'm sure that there will be moral as well as actual victories further along in the series, but even with the past trauma's haunting this group, there's a will looking to play in these pages, and those mature enough to enjoy it will certainly do so.
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