Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer(s): Donny Cates, Eliot Rahal
Artist: Geoff Shaw
Colours: Lauren Affe
Release Date: 16th September, 2015
Sometimes when you find out the premise of a comic you can’t help but get excited, and that’s certainly true of The Paybacks, the brainchild of co-creators Donny Cates and Eliot Rahal. Essentially, our titular Paybacks are a repo squad made up of former heroes who have gone bankrupt and are paying off their debts by helping to collect the debts of other heroes who may have gone a little overboard with kitting out their fortresses of solitude and buying their invisible planes. Think of a sort of down-and-out Suicide Squad and you’re probably in the right ballpark.
Reassuringly then, even before the first page I knew my initial excitement was justified as I ran through the handy roster page, each character sounding more delicious than the last. Hey, with names like Miss Adventure, The Soviet Nunchuk and Jacob Destruction, you just know you’re in for a good time.
Okay, so as you might expect, the tone here is fairly light for the most part. This opening issue breaks The Paybacks into two teams, each in the process of tracking down a hero who has missed some of their payments. Cates and Rahal are clearly having an absolute blast with the inter-team banter, and this issue features some absolute gems of dialogue that I’m not going to spoil for you because – well – you’ve already read the premise, which means you’re pretty much guaranteed to buy this one, right? Right??
Anyway, the humour continues throughout, even in the face of some fairly brutal violence as things go significantly worse for Beta Team than they do for Alpha Team. The co-writers also take great pleasure in poking fun at some of the inherent silliness of Batman with their own distinctive version – The Night Knight. Complete with his own armoured unicorn (yeah, you heard me), a notepad to jot down his dark monologues and an astoundingly well-named ‘Night Light’ (like the Bat-Signal, y’know?), his exploits provide the undeniable highlight of this first issue.
All of this awesomeness is brought to life by the artwork of Geoff Shaw, who does a stellar job in making each of the team members visually distinctive, as well as keeping things flowing during some pretty damn chaotic action scenes. He also does a fantastic job with a two-page spread of the team’s Van, which may not be quite what it initially seems. Lauren Affe adds some depth with her subtle colour work, keeping things feeling fresh without ever overpowering Shaw’s artwork.
Essentially, what we have here is a brilliant premise that actually lives up to – nay, exceeds – its potential. While it could easily be pitched as a dark, gritty crime thriller filled with despondent, frustrated former heroes grudgingly working off their debts, the decision to play it for laughs is an absolutely inspired. Irritatingly, this first issue doesn’t actually go on sale until mid-September, meaning I’m going to have to wait months, literally, to read the second one. Sob.
Simply put, The Paybacks is absolutely bloody hilarious, and it’s difficult not to be drawn in by how much fun the creators seem to be having with it. It’s easy to imagine them grinning, laughing and high-fiving as they put this bad boy together, and the sheer joy involved makes it nearly impossible not to read it with a smile on your face.
You can pre-order The Paybacks #1 from the JUL15 PREVIEWS catalog using Diamond #JUL150091! Oh, and if you order 15 or more copies you get an additional 10% off your order! Let your local retailer know, because this is frickin’ awesome.