By Dustin Cabeal
As I’ve been saying a lot lately, I don’t read solicits, so I actually read Made Men without knowing what the book was about at all. That’s the thing about solicits, they always give you the hook, and the hook for this series is easy to tell you. I won’t though because if you don’t know what it’s about it’ll be far more interesting to see your reaction at the end of it.
That’s one thing I’ll say right away, up until the end I was sold on this book. I was digging everything it was doing, but then that last page hit. I kind of arched my head to the side as I looked at it wondering, just wondering where it would go next and if it could once again retain my interest. Because that’s the thing, that last page knocked the interest out of me. It might have the opposite effect for other people, but it knocked it clean out for me.
The beginning is brilliant. It’s a woman named Shelly narrating an ambush that kills all of her friends/fellow officers. Until all that’s left is Shelly. The narration from Paul Tobin is fucking amazing. It’s some of the best writing I’ve read this year and what makes it better is his homage to Robocop at the end. It was brutal and amazing, and it made you go, fuck yeah Robocop, but still enjoy it on its own.
Then the hook happens, and I didn’t hate it. I don’t want to spoil it, but it was easy to say then it’s Robocop plus another franchise that everyone is familiar with plus a new twist. I was still on board until something obvious happened in the plot. A character makes a deal that makes the entire opening’s set up seem obvious. Maybe they’re just not that bright, or maybe they didn’t care, and it’s all part of their plan, but pair this moment with the ending, and it was a bit of head scratcher of why it wasn’t obvious to the character in the story. Maybe Paul Tobin has some more twists and turns, and so I’ll hold off on judging that part of the story until it’s actually a part of the story, but a first issue sets up the story, and so any reader is going to wonder where it’s going and what’s the conclusion.
Accompanying the brilliant narration, in the beginning, is the artwork. The artwork makes the scene feel frantic and frustrating for the characters. It’s intense, it’s powerful, and it accomplishes the same thing that Robocop does, in that these character’s deaths are brutal and overpowers your senses so that you feel for them instantly. You don’t have time to go, “Oh why, great death!” Instead, you just feel for these people getting blitzed and having no idea why. The narration makes the artwork powerful and vice versa. The coloring is flat and muted, but it works for the style and the tone. It gives the world a gritty underworld vibe which is a good setting for it considering the subject matter.
Four-sixths of this issue is incredible. Those last two-sixths dip pretty hard though. They feel out of place with the rest of it, but also seem to be the norm for what’s to come. I’ll be back for the next issue because what’s here in this first issue was good. It’s not perfect, but it’s a solid first issue for sure. That said, damn does that second issue have its work cut out for it.
Made Men #1