By Dustin Cabeal
Ever have an advanced review turn into a late review? No probably not, but when you run a small site and have a handful of people helping you out, it, unfortunately, happens more often than not. I read Killbox: Chicago #1 a month ago, maybe more and just never sat down to review it. I review a lot each week, this week is probably my record for reviews, but there was something holding me back from reviewing this issue.
The premise for Killbox is great. I love the premise. It reminds me a bit of NBC’s The Player, but without it being as terrible as that show. The short and skinny is that much like the name implies, there’s a killbox set up in a city. Contestants are recruited and asked to kill each other. Don’t go out of the killbox and don’t cheat the game; you know all the rules attached to an idea that pits people against each other in the game of death. Some people bet on the game of course and a huge secret operation running things.
The sequel doesn’t require you to have read the first series, which is good because I only read the first two issues and kind of forget to get the rest. It happens, I read more than I review so keep just look at that number of reviews and double it. Anyway, the winner of the last series is actually revealed, which was nice because I didn’t know who won. That was a twist I didn’t see coming either. He wants back in the game, and so they offer him the chance to kill one of the new players and take their spot. The other side of the story is that there are two people that have survived the previous game somehow, that part at this point in the story is unclear and I might need to take back my statement about not having to read the first volume. This review is quite the journey, isn’t it?
The writing is what I have hang ups on. The dialogue has no natural flow, and none of it is believable. Only one character seems like a character, and even then, 80% of what he says is exposition. Most of what everyone says is exposition. Just people saying things that everyone else in the room should know, but they’re being said for the sake of the reader because the writer wasn’t able to convey the information through the story naturally. It’s annoying to read if I’m quite honest.
The only problem with the premise is that none of the people are likable. This isn’t the 90s I can’t buy into the checkered past or the “I was set up so that they could get me to play the game” angle anymore. They’re a bunch of unlikable people attempting to kill each other for money. It’s hard to root for anyone. If they were randomly selected and had everything to lose, maybe, but even then it’s hard to work with. You just need one bad ass mother fucker to root for, and the problem goes away, but there isn’t one. I ended up rooting for the guy running everything; he seemed cool.
The art is lovely, but just the pencils and ink. The coloring is intentionally spotty. There’s color in every panel, but it’s just one color and usually one object. A brick wall, a face, a bag. At first glance, it looks cool, but when you realize there’s no rhyme or reason to it, it’s kind of distracting. It’s not that character are colored in green or orange instead of realistic flesh tones, but the fact that nothing else is like that in the same panel. It would be visually more interesting if someone was colored green and the rest of the panel was orange. It became distracting after a while and made it hard to enjoy the artwork, which was detailed and wonderful on its own. This book would have looked great in black and white or colored, but not the half and half style it currently has.
I like this series, but at the end of the day what kept me from reviewing it right away was the fact that I didn’t like this issue. I liked the concept more than the execution, and so it makes it hard to recommend to people. I guess I just didn’t want to rain on its parade early and so here we are right now. Maybe the next issue will be better in terms of the story and character development, but it’s unlikely the rest of the problems will change.
Killbox: Chicago #1
American Gothic Press