Monday, December 7, 2009

Comic Review: The Devil's Handshake (Archaia)

A good comic should grab the reader by the seat of their pants on the first page. It’s got to pop, and sing, and do a little dance all over your imagination at the same time.

The Devil’s Handshake does just that.

Created by Director Ryan Schifrin (Abonimable) and co-written with Larry Hama (G.I. Joe, Wolverine, etc) The Devil’s Handshake emulates so many aspects of popular culture in its first few pages it makes your head spin.
Schifrin and Hama are attempting to put force their way into a genre that’s already loaded to the brim with characters trying to fill the fedora of the best pulp character of all time. Where most have failed (have you ever seen any of the Mummy movies), Hama and Schifrin have made it out of the gate with out tripping over their own feet.

Partnered with relatively unknown artists Adam Archer and Lizzy John, the duo have established a story that gets the reader hooked, and quick.

Hama’s dialogue has always been a little campy, and anyone who’s read his stuff over the last twenty years can pick it out of a line-up. You quickly realize that Basil, a rough and tumble British soldier, and Moebius, a suave, if wordy ladies man, are in fact, well British.

Besides the slightly goofy dialogue, Hama really shines here. Beyond Basil and Moebius we’re introduced to Sophi Weidl (an Israeli Defense Force operative) as well as someone mysteriously known only as...The Collector.

Hama’s a master of plotter and designer of story arcs and you can tell that he’s got a story lined up for this cast of characters. I have no doubt that if he’s given enough time he can take the story and its reader on a ride that will last for years.

The main problem with this issue is he’s not given enough time to tell his story, at only 48 pages long, you can tell Hama’s been squished into telling the story in an abridged way.

I have no doubt this story line could have gone on a complete six issues, maybe it could go even longer. The story has a sense of becoming epic. If there are more chapters it can still get there, but right now, it’s lacking in that department.

The story would have been simply okay if not for the art. It’s the work of Archer and John that make up the for the weak points.

The colors are spectacular, the composition is cinematic. It’s really only a matter of time before this pair gets swooped up by one of the big companies. I’d love to see them stick around though to complete the story.

Will I pick up the next issue? Sure. Will I continue reading after that? I’m not sure. At $6 a pop it’s hard to stomach. If you’ve got the extra cash laying around and you see the book on the shelf think about picking it up. You won’t be disappointed.

Carl Keyser
Staff Reviewer

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