Writer: Dave Cook
Artwork: Steve Gregson
Colours: Matt Herms
Letters: Rob Jones
Hot on the heels of the latest in a long line of immensely successful Kickstarter campaigns, writer Dave Cook has teamed up with artist Steve Gregson, colourist Matt Herms and letterer Rob Jones for BPM: Beatdowns Per Minute, a love letter to the glorious excesses of classic beat-’em-up games like Streets of Rage, Final Fight and Double Dragon.
In terms of the subject matter, it’s safe to say that this pretty much feels like a perfect fit for Cook. Anyone who has been even remotely aware of his social media accounts will know his deep affection for video games in all their forms, a passion which actually saw him going ahead and penning the stunning 456 page hardcover ‘Go Straight: The Ultimate Guide to Side-Scrolling Beat-’Em-Ups’ for Bitmap Books (AVAILABLE HERE).
As far as BPM is concerned, all the familiar tropes are present and fully embraced here, with a pair of Stone City cops – one reckless, one cynical – trying to bring down an evil criminal syndicate, and every one of the 37 pages in this first issue packed with action, colour, drama and violence. It’s clear that Cook and Gregson (who collectively go by ‘Team Beats’) are trading heavily in nostalgia here, and when the results are as cool as this, I’m all here for it.
I’ll fully confess to not being familiar with Gregson’s work prior to picking this comic up, but much like Cook, he feels like a perfect fit here. Everything on the visual side of the book suitably chunky, bombastic and expressive, with more than a hint of Bryan Lee O’Malley in some of his character designs, and colourist Matt Herms helps to breathe some real life and energy into the proceedings with his vibrant, in-your-face colour work.
While the story itself isn’t really anything too ground-breaking, the enthusiastic execution from the entire creative team really helps to sell it, and the quip-laden interplay between Maya (the aforementioned reckless one) and Rick (the aforementioned cynic) keeps the pages turning even when the fists and feet aren’t flying.
While it’s aimed squarely at a fairly distinct demographic – namely, anyone who has ever played and enjoyed a side-scrolling beat-’em-up – those who fall into that demographic will be in absolute heaven at the sheer retro excess of the story and artwork. And for everyone else, there’s still an impressively well-made book with some truly striking artwork to be enjoyed. A bare knuckle beast of a comic, and I already can’t wait to get my hands on issue two.
BPM: Beatdowns Per Minute #1 will be available soon on Dave Cook’s Online Store (CLICK HERE)
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]