Joint Review – Jackpot #1 (Aftershock Comics)


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Publisher: Aftershock Comics
Writer: Ray Fawkes
Artist: Marco Failla
Release Date: 13th April 2016

Chris Bennett Says…

I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on Jackpot since it was first announced. I knew very little about it, just that enough people told me I’d absolutely love it. So, in true “media blackout” fashion, I went in knowing absolutely nothing, which is sometimes the most exciting way to tackle a new series, particularly one from a creative team like this.

This first issue follows a team on their mission to steal from a Cartel boss, showing all the different moving pieces of the heist, centered around high stakes poker team involving one of the team members and the boss himself.

Ray Fawkes has some clear influences on the series, with his characters following the tried and tested “team dynamic”; there’s the funny one, the intelligent one, the sniper/driver, the operative and the gambler. Where the book differs from the norm however is that these archetypal characters don’t conform to the normal gender stereotypes you might think. I won’t discuss it much further here to avoid spoiling anything, however I will say that Fawkes provided a fairly refreshing take on just who played who.

Failla manages to have a distinct visual style here; just enough of a Marvel-esque cartoonish vibe to it, but at the same time not making it too light and fluffy, which I think would have taken away from the slightly serious tone of the story. All in, good fit! The design aspect of having the names and occupations “float” above the characters when they are introduced is a fantastic retro touch that has been overdone in the past, but which added a nice break up of the pages here. Additionally, it doesn’t hurt that every character has a recognisable design that makes them easily distinguishable when together, with everyone having their own unique look.

The overall feel and flow of the book is another nice design touch. With the story jumping between set pieces it gives the issue a TV show-like quality that keeps the pace brisk, making what is essentially an introductory issue seem all the more exciting.

My only real problem with this first issue is the fact that it feels like such a small part of the overall arc that it’s over too soon and really just feels like the tip of the iceberg with the reveal on the last page. Obviously Fawkes and Failla don’t want to tip their hand too early, but I’d have liked to have seen just a little more of the ‘big picture’ than just the final few panels. It’s a minor niggle, however if this was a $3.99 book that certain other publishers put out I’d have definitely been left disappointed.

Regardless, it’s clear that Aftershock have yet another winner on their hands here with Jackpot, a series which starts with a bang and serves as a damn fine addition to their already throbbing roster.

Rating: 4.5/5.

Andrew McGlinn Says…

Who doesn’t love a good heist movie? Tales of one-uppance are a personal favourite of mine, from Ocean’s Eleven to The Italian Job, hell, I even enjoyed most of Leverage (until they ran out of steam towards the end). That confession aside it’s pretty much a shoe-in that I’d be all over Jackpot, especially as Team BCP raised the Black Flag when Gotham By Midnight was cancelled. We know Ray Fawkes can produce the goods.

Jackpot opens, as all good larceny capers should, with a card game. In fact, the first issue of Jackpot covers a 10 minute spell during which our protagonist’s sting is happening, and the snap judgements our characters have to make to ensure the end result. The reader is launched into this scenario at its crescendo but the slick writing and artistic tricks breed an instant familiarity to the story. You are immediately rooting for this team. Cleverly, Ray Fawkes has appropriated the readers understanding of how the genre is constructed so the story can hit the ground running.

The artistic use of titles as each character is revealed in floating block letters, e.g ‘Tam Malawi “The Poker Face,”’ gives the issue a feel like a movie introduction such as you would see before the opening credits. Fast paced, with groundwork quickly laid, we get a taste of the team before the real story begins. As I said, the issue revolves around a card game – and a robbery that doesn’t go quite to plan. I’m going to leave it at that for my summary as I really don’t want to spoil this for you – suffice to say it’s very entertaining. There are clear introductions to each team member (and their role in the team), and yes, there are the familiar tropes there, but these are tropes that are tired and tested. However, while a characters role may be generic, the characters personality in the team is not and there are suggestions on where the dynamics in this team lie already.

Marco Failla has quite the delicate touch when it comes to the art of Jackpot. Lines are slight, but very clean. It makes the panels very easy to read, and if you take the time to absorb the images there is a surprising amount of details going on in the art. Another thing – whether by design or chance – is the amount of motion that is telegraphed through the art. Whether it’s a character grabbing a gun, swiping at a cat, spilling a drink, or just some vectored lines to make a perspective shot, it all adds to the sense of fluidity and pace to the story. This is synchronous with the matt palette that colourist Stefani Rennee uses, shading with a light vectored style. The colouring quite brilliantly evokes a sense of shade (as in this team working from the shadows) as the heist is taking place, thus giving a subliminal reinforcement of the style and action of the comic.

Jackpot is a solid start, and if you are a fan of the genre this will be a hit. The creative team have dreamed up a fast-paced style of comic that is easy to read, but fly through this and you may miss something (I know I did on my first read-through). However, if you take your time over it there are also hints of a hidden richness there that you can enjoy. I was going to give this a 3, or a 3.5, it’s a great start and worth a read, but there wasn’t a real sense of individuality yet …. until the end. Like I said before, we know Ray Fawkes has a pedigree we enjoy, and the end of the issue just explodes with possibilities. It immediately made me think of ‘Now You See Me,’ and this direction has bags of potential and has my interest piqued.

Rating: 4/5.

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