Publisher: Oni Press
Writer: Paul Tobin
Artwork: Arjuna Susini, Gonzalo Duarte (colours)
Release Date: 6th September 2017
I’ll admit, I almost didn’t want to review the first issue of Made Men, the latest creator-owned offering from Paul Tobin, Arjuna Susini and Portland-based publisher Oni Press. Why, you ask? Well, going in completely blind (as I did) really enhanced the impact of Tobin’s story, and I felt like the more details of the series I gave away, the less it would work.
That said, this is a series that people need to know about, so I’m going to do my best. Here’s the bare bones: Jutte Shelley is a member of a Detroit Special Ops team – a team which, as we open this issue, has just walked into the mother of all ambushes and is in the process of being gunned down mercilessly. Jutte somehow manages to survive, and decides to tap into the rather well-known history of her family to rebound and exact a little revenge on her would-be murderers.
As should be expected by now, the dialogue from the Eisner Award-winning Tobin flows smoothly and naturally throughout, and Jutte’s first-person reactions to the brutal massacre of her team in the opening pages makes for an utterly captivating read. The basic premise (y’know, the one I’m not talking about) is pure gold, and watching things unfold over the course of this first issue is a real thing of beauty. The pacing is perhaps a little unconventional, almost jarring in places, with things starting off slowly with a second-by-second account, before ramping up rapidly as we start leaping forward weeks and months at a time later in the issue.
I’ll confess I’m not particularly familiar with the work of Arjuna Susini, but based on what I’m seeing here, I’m probably going to have to remedy that as quickly as possible. There’s an understated flair to his scratchy pencils that really works well, particularly during the harrowing opening, and as we get to the more ‘out there’ aspects of Tobin’s story, it looks likely that the Italian artist is going to be more than up to the task – especially if the final page here is anything to go by.
If the primary objective of the first issue of a new series is simply to hook the reader into picking up the second issue, then Made Men succeeds on all counts. And whether it’s the gripping opening, the thoroughly intriguing protagonist, the surprising twist or the eyebrow-raising final page, this new series ticks all the boxes, and reanimates the fairly lifeless ‘crime revenge’ genre with a satisfying jolt.
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