To read the official synopsis and to look at the cover you would say that Bolts is a Frankenstein horror western. That alone is interesting and something I can get behind. I mean, Frankenstein hasn’t been done to death in comics lately and horror western is something I’m always interested in so let’s go, let’s give this a shot. I was instantly confused. You see… I didn’t know what it was supposed to be. To be very honest, I rarely, if ever, read the synopsis of anything. I want to go into a story knowing nothing about it. The reason being is that if I know what it’s supposed to be then that influences what I get out of the story.
The Frankenstein aspect isn’t even touched on. Instead we just see that he can’t really die and can be put back together… I can’t think of a single other comic book character like that… nothing is coming to mind. Hold on, hold on… no… no one. Sure we see A bolt a couple of times, but I’ll save that for the art aspect of this review.
What was even worse is that the character doesn’t know what the hell is going on. So I was confused. They were confused and the only explanation comes in a two-page splash with some crazy old man doing his best Claremont impersonation spouting off a lot of exposition. Even more painfully was the fact that I was still groggy on the story because the exposition is intentionally vague.
Then Mario shows up in the story. Yes, Mario Mario from the Nintendo games. He’s not named because that would be a lawsuit, but even in the back the creator is like “he’s Mario.” Part of me was like, “What the fuck is Mario doing in this story?” and the other part of me was like, “Hey, Mario is in this story.” Neither half could figure out why Mario was in the story though.
The writing is rough. There’s several intentional jumps in the story that break whatever narrative was happening. The exposition never really stops and our protagonist, while confused and in a hellscape, has deus ex machinas dropped left and right along with what can only be called convenient story aspects. There’s no sense of who this character is, where he came from and only a vague concept of what he’s there to do.
The art is interesting. I didn’t hate it, but it isn’t strong in the visual storytelling department. The panel layouts are clumsy, the splash pages are unnecessary, and the designs are inconsistent. It’s also only in three colors: black, white and red. While I’m a huge fan of this style, you have to remember to keep it clean enough for the details to pop out. There’s too much detail. Too much black to gray ink and so much of the art is just lost in the details. The red doesn’t pop from the page because there’s simply too much black and too much blood.
The strange thing is that I didn’t hate this book. I didn’t love it, but I’ve read much worse. There was something that was entertaining about it, perhaps in a “B” movie way. I don’t know if I’ll pick up the next issue though. This wasn’t a smooth ride by any means and in a lot of ways comes off like someone’s first draft making it all the way to the printer. It could use some more polish, but it’s not terrible.
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