Usually I don’t go for reprints or re-releases of stories because they tend to feel dated. Even though I bust on comics for almost always being behind the times due to the nature of our society and the printing industry, for the most part they are always very relevant. When you get a reprint then it can be good or bad. It can be a nostalgic trip to the past to read a style of comic that you haven’t read before or it can be a painful reminder of a comic style that you’d care not to read any more. You should have a question on the tip of your tongue now and it should be which of the two categories does Sinister Dexter fall into? There are actually two stories collected in this issue from creators Dan Abnett and Andy Clarke, but before we get to that how about some background info on this series? Sinister Dexter is part of IDW’s expanded partnership with 2000 AD meaning that the stories originally appeared in 2000 AD’s monthly publication. It’s stars characters Finnigan Sinister and Ramone Dexter, two guns for hire or as the job description calls them “Gun-Sharks.” Their jobs are something everyone knows about because everyone could have a contract taken out on them if the money is right. Once they take the job there seems to be next to nothing that will stop them from completely their task.
The first story is called “Money? Shots” and is about porn… kinda. This was actually the best possible story to kick the series off with because it shows you the type of dark and perverted humor that will be in the story. From the first conversation you’ll know if this story is for you or not. Our main characters are heading into their next job while Sinister lists titles of regular movies in their porn form; an example being “Jur-Ass-Sex Park” and “The Whole Nine Inches” to give you an example of the era this was written in as well. They are there to see Buster Cherry, but the nature of the visit isn’t revealed until they bust in on an open “set.” After getting a ton of lip from the director/self-dubbed “Queen Bitch”, Sinister pulls out a shotgun and points it at the crew. It only gets funnier and crazier from there, but there’s far too much to sum up. Again this story is a great indicator of the style of stories that will be told in this series.
The second story “Point Blanc” has less nudity (none actually), but is still very mature. Our duo is chasing their target during a blizzard and Sinister (the comedic relief) has forgotten to bring gloves. Dexter (the straight man) teases him by rubbing his fleece gloves on his face. They have a minor shoot out in front of a sports store and Sinister lifts some mittens and they’re on their way again. They finish the job, but it leads to another job with some key elements connecting the two jobs.
The thing about the humor in both stories is that it’s very smart. The jokes are almost cheesy, but the plot goes through incredible lengths to set the joke up making it even funnier. At the porn studio when Sinister pulls out his shotgun one of the “actresses” says, “Oh my god! Look at the size of his weapon” and then laughs about being able to say that in real life. The path to get to that line and then the joke that follows happens from the moment the duo step on “set.” Also that line is so comic booky that it wouldn’t faze you if she didn’t comment on it, the fact that she did just makes it funnier. It’s not even the best joke of that story just to give you an idea of what to expect. Abnett’s writing is fantastic on this series and it’s no wonder that he went on to write a bunch of great stuff after this, but I’d be lying if I didn’t want to see more of this style of humor and maturity from his writing in the future.
Abnett is only one half of this equation though; Clarke delivers on the art in a huge way. At this point the reader’s exposure to this world is minimal, but he makes the world come to life. It feels like the not too distant future and this story isn’t exactly new. The character designs are photorealistic and even though a percentage of the first story is spent with beautiful naked women, there are actually lots of character designs and not all of them look like super models. This plays a huge role in making the world real and believable. It’s a grungy world where at the announcement of a Gun-Shark in a room everyone confesses their sins expecting to catch a bullet so their contract will be paid.
As much as I enjoyed the “sights” of the first story the second actually was my favorite. Maybe it’s just that time of year or the fact that you don’t see a lot of snow in comic books, but there was something cool about seeing both characters in snow gear combing the city during a blizzard. Clarke illustrates snow in the best possible way sacrificing the panel to capture the realism, but not cheating it by covering it in all white or wind. It’s an effect I rarely see in comics and it just goes to show the range of Clarke’s skills.
I didn’t really know what to expect with this series and when I realized it was a reprint it lowered my expectations. Again, I haven’t had a good track record with them, but this was a great trip to the past for comics that aren’t made anymore. But really other than a few lines of dialog this story didn’t feel aged in the least bit. Instead it was actually very refreshing. I haven’t read a story like this before and I doubt I will after which has me looking forward to as many issues of this series as I can get. Check it out for yourself.
Writer: Dan Abnett Artist: Andy Clarke Publisher: 2000 AD/ IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 12/11/13