Well the double-sized series finale of Scam arrived this week and it does a decent job of closing out the mini-series that originally began as five issues and was later shortened to four. I say shortened, but really you’re given both the fourth and fifth issue here and it’s honestly for the better. Joe Mulvey and Publisher Tyler James joked about the fourth issue typically doing the worst in a five issue series and it’s actually pretty true. If you give the fourth issue too much payoff no one will show up for the fifth and so most of the time you’re reading an entire issue that’s just hanging out waiting for the ending.
Overall I’ve liked this series, but it hasn’t been without its problems. The first and most glaring is that the cast of characters is too large. Even with a breakdown of characters in the beginning of the issue we’re still introduced to numerous supporting cast members ranging from ex-lovers to secretaries; the Russian mob, a branch of the Japanese Yakuza operating in Vegas and even a cameo from the Pietasters. In total there are about seventeen characters that have pretty strong roles in this final arc of the story.
Then there’s the happy ending business. I’m going to venture into [SPOILER] territory because the last issue left off with a big cliffhanger that instantly gets addressed in this issue. So no one dies. I mean no one. Remember Doc? He was hanging from his neck out of a window after Crosswords got done with him… not dead. Not even injured. Everyone is confused by this because as we saw for two issues Doc has been tortured by Crosswords and it was pretty hardcore stuff. This scene with him alive and well is deflating because it means that every death that follows must also be questioned. For me it played into the more typical superhero structure which was something it hadn’t done until this.
Without droning on too much about the story we basically learn what the crew’s revenge score actually is and it’s not money believe it or not… well not only money. We also see them fully embrace their powers and see the dawn of what I can only describe as an X-Men inspired world. We’re given plenty of mystery about how everyone got their powers and a set up for more stories involving the Crew and the Wildcards. That part I enjoyed. I actually like them having powers and using them as needed rather than their overly cautious usage previously. I also like that there’s another group out there that might be responsible for the powers and in general there’s a lot more going on in this world.
There was an overall feeling of danger and suspense attached to this series that didn’t pay off for me. Crosswords reveal was pretty disappointing and while there have been worse villain reveals this year, this one still didn’t score very high. The schemes also didn’t pay off. Like I said there seemed to be a lot of danger involved with everyone’s plans, but in the end it felt like “hey let’s all team up for a minute to screw this one guy and then get back to fighting.” I appreciate the layers of complexity, but at some point I think that there were too many layers involved and so the payoff of one was dampened by another.
An aspect I did like of the series and this story was that it was hard to tell the good guys apart from the bad guys. Everyone functions in a grey area, even our main characters dubbed “The Crew.” Sure there doing something noble, but they get the job done by doing anything necessary. The addition of their powers helps for sure, but again they dance in the grey the entire issue.
Creator Joe Mulvey’s art is still an incredible fit for this series. I still think that he needs to trust himself more as an artist to convey the story instead of relying on dialog. Something I’ve said from the beginning of this series is that it’s chatty. Everyone talks and a lot of the time I felt that the characters expressions did as much of the works at the dialog. For instance the scene on the roof when Tru is negotiating a fee for their services, there was so much that could have been trimmed and said with just a stern look. It’s a great scene, but the talk bubbles cover a lot of the art during the buildup.
Mulvey really has an eye for action though. Whether it’s fist-a-cuffs or gun play he makes it look natural and easy to follow. It’s also very epic feeling. A punch to the mouth looks like it causes the character receiving the hit, real pain. The level of details throughout the series has been great and that doesn’t quit here. Colorist Chris Sotomayor continues making the art look pretty. The coloring has definitely stood out to me with this series. I enjoy the look it has and have nothing to compare it too. In a way it looks like 2-D animation which is something most comic readers can appreciate.
If you enjoyed or even just stuck around through the first three issues then you’ll definitely want to see how it ends. I can’t say that you’ll be pleased with every outcome, but for the most part it’s a rewarding conclusion that sets the stage for future stories. I don’t know if Mulvey is going to jump right back in the fray with a follow up, but when the time is right I’m sure we’ll see more of Scam.
Writer/Artist/Creator: Joe Mulvey
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor
Release Date: 12/18/13