Coming off the back of the hugely successful and highly regarded Rat Queens, launching a new comic book might appear daunting. Bounty, for Kurtis Wiebe, is the difficult second album. For this science fiction epic, Wiebe teams up with relative unknown Mindy Lee for the art with colours from Leonardo Olea (Avengers Academy, Fairy Quest).
The Gadflies were the most wanted criminals in the galaxy—robbing corporations to redistribute wealth to the destitute. Now, with a bounty to match their reputation, the Gadflies are forced to abandon banditry for a career as bounty hunters . . . ’cause if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em—then rob ’em blind!
Bounty certainly hits the ground running. A little too fast if I’m honest. It took a second reading to get to grips with what was going on within the first few pages. We’re with Nina and Georgie. Sisters. We’re in the future (2205). We’re told that over the past five years they have stolen money from the evillest corporations and while kept some themselves, have given some to the poor. Future sister Robin Hoods then. A space ship is bringing the sisters to justice, with some very heavily armed goons. The first pages contain as much exposition as Wiebe thinks he can get away with as we find out that the captured Gadfies are to be handled outside the letter of the law. Of course, they get away, after some full-on fight scenes and their own version of justice.
And then, with no explanation as yet, we’re ‘years later’ and some creature is dropped into a private fish tank-like environment. It appears to a visual representation of something technological, or it might be an actual underwater miniature environment. Not sure. The sisters, now dressed in garish body armour and calling themselves Redhawk and The Sparrow, bust a card game. More fighting ensues. Another bounty hunter, the Sovereign, appears to be the girls’ main competition.
I’m not sure what to make of issue #1 of Bounty. Let’s look at the story…it’s always difficult to translate the future. It needs to be relatable but different enough to be interesting. Bounty hunting, femme fatale sisters on the run. Yet they operate with honour and use guild regulations. A potentially arrogant rival. Evil corporations. Characters using tablets and playing cards yet travel to space stations that appear to have being made by crashing Bladerunner into Serenity. Cute cats and the odd underwater scenes. The dialogue is knowingly ‘cool’.
As for the artwork. ‘In your face’ describes it nicely. Big bold lines with a pop sensibility from Lee. The characters are all angles and cool Manga-esque hairstyles. The character design of the Sovereign is a little too much like another series’ antagonist, with emoji’s instead of a TV face. I would have thought emoji’s won’t be a thing in 200 years’ time. The art is lovely, if brash and bold is your thing. It has a cinematic feel, with some panels having blurring and the impression of speed. This is all rendered very well. There are some remarkably looking individual panels.
There is a lot to enjoy in Bounty but as the moment, it doesn’t feel like a classic. A little too much too soon. Storytelling and character development is a subtle art and this feels as if Wiebe has gone for the sledgehammer approach, taking clear inspiration from his favourite sources. The whole might end up being more the sum of its parts. You probably can’t separate story and art too much in comic books. The art in Bounty certainly suits the story. However, I’m not convinced that Wiebe is telling a decent original tale. But there is enough in issue #1 to suggest #2 will be worth a punt.
Title: Bounty Issue #1
Publisher: Dark Horse
GS Blogger: Ian J Simpson