Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer(s): Donny Cates, Eliot Rahal
Artist: Geoff Shaw
Colours: Lauren Affe
Release Date: 23rd December, 2015
Before I get to the actual review of the latest instalment of one of my top five series of 2015, I have to address the fact that Dark Horse is announcing this as the “series finale” of The Paybacks. Which, if true, is nothing short of heartbreaking. Hopefully it just means that this is end of ‘volume one’, because if The Paybacks ends up being another Sundowners, I’m going to literally start slapping people at my local comic shop if they haven’t picked this one up.
Anywho, putting the mini-rant to one side for a moment, let’s take a look at the latest issue…
As should be expected, the incredibly high standard of razor-sharp storytelling continues here. The humour takes a bit of a back seat, it has to be said, although there are still some smirk-raising moments along the way – particularly during the latest exchange between Bloodpouch and the Soviet Nunchuk.
The attempt to collect the debts of The Matador leads to a shitstorm of monumental proportions as a small army of assassins tries to take him out, and in the aftermath, things get fairly intense, with all manner of shocks, reveals and subterfuge that I’m definitely not going to spoil by discussing.
Artist Geoff Shaw continues his absolutely stellar work here, cramming the pages with dynamic action and creative layouts, particularly during the arrival of “The Van” to the aforementioned shitstorm (the gloriousness of which you can see below in the preview pages). Lauren Affe keeps things vibrant-but-not-garish, and most definitely excels herself during one particularly memorable double-page spread late in the book. Visually, there’s no doubt that the Paybacks is an absolute joy to read, with detailed, expressive characters and an ever-so-slightly cartoony vibe that helps some of the comedic beats really hit the mark.
Overall, this is another stunningly good issue of what has been a perfectly balanced and brilliantly scripted series, featuring twists, turns, laughter and tears. The only possible negative I can find is the faint lurking possibility that this may in fact be the last issue, which is going to make that final cliffhanger pretty much unbearable.
Even if this is the end though, Cates, Rahal, Shaw and Affe deserve the highest of praises for putting together this wonderfully compelling take on the superhero genre; a funny, exciting and – in the end – pretty damn moving series. Pats on the back all round then, although I’m going to be keeping my fingers crossed that the report of the Paybacks’ demise has been greatly exaggerated.
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If you want to find out a little more about the series, make sure to check out my interview with co-writers Donny Cates and Eliot Rahal. You won’t regret it. Hopefully.