Review by Blackmocco
13 Coins #1 – Simon Bisley, Martin Brennan and Michael B Jackson
Freshly forged from the molten talent of Simon Bisley and two guys who wrote a Hitman videogame and released as part of Titan’s line of original material, 13 Coins kicks off just right: A spectacular montage of images chronicling a war between the armies of Heaven and a legion of fallen angels, along the way spelling out the mythology of the aforementioned coins themselves and the fallen ones’ Earthbound modern-day search for a mortal who’s been foretold to bring them a long-awaited victory against Heaven.
From that, we’re off to New York and introduced to John – an ex-con trying to get his shit together and suffering from terrifying visions, Manuel – a forlorn ex-soldier missing a leg after a tour of duty, and Gwen – a psychic (a cop? I wasn’t clear) who’s a part of some shadowy group trailing the Fallen ones and their activities. Quite literally the God-squad, one suspects.
I thought the previews of the art looked intriguing but sad to say, beyond Bisley’s artwork, this didn’t do much for me. Basing a story around a war in Heaven is well-trodden ground at this point, particularly in comics, and this first issue doesn’t work hard enough at mining anything new from the concept. I also felt some of the dialog felt leaden in places and there’s heavy-handed exposition at every turn making the strip feel a little clumsy.
But y’know, you may just be buying this for Simon Bisley and at least the art patches up a lot of the shortcomings. There’s nothing I can add about The Biz that hasn’t already been said over the years. A thermonuclear artist who can shape abhorrent violence into a thing of wondrous and enchanting beauty, there’s a ton of stuff in here tailor-made for him to tackle. Unfortunately, that’s also what contributed to my feeling of seeing it all before, right down to the stock inappropriately dressed, gun-totin’, sexy biker Bisleybabe psychic.
The artwork’s absolutely beautiful here, don’t get me wrong. If I’ve ever had criticism of an artist I’m not fit to lick the boots of, it’s that his storytelling in the past has sometimes been haphazard and confusing. I noticed he’d addressed that on his absolutely stellar run on Hellblazer and it continues here. The compositions are clear, the action is staged masterfully, the drawing and rendering is razor sharp. The man’s a fucking god.
Anyway, a mixed bag in the end. I hate being this harsh on it and I’m keeping in mind it’s a first issue trying hard to lay down a LOT of ideas and characters into just 24 pages. I just hope as it goes on, we’ll see it twist some of those into something we haven’t seen before.
For more info, check out Titan Comics website HERE