By Dustin Cabeal
The concept for Stained isn’t that different from a lot of other comics that have come out in recent memory. A female bounty hunter in the future, you can add the “not so distant” if that makes you feel better, but it’s just the future to me. I can think of at least two other comics that had the same core idea, but the big difference is that Stained didn’t spend an entire issue explaining why the bounty hunter was poor and the “rules” for bounty hunting. All of this is explained through believable dialogue which was refreshing to read since again, not an entire issue was spent on the fine details.
To give an example, I know that Emma, the main character, is poor because she finishes a job and starts looking for another one instantly. Why? To pay the rent. I know that she’s not making a lot because a conversation with the woman that cuts her an e-Check tells her how much taxes take from her bounty which gives a clear indication that it’s not enough to live off of, hence her needing more work instantly.
The one thing I will say that this book could have done better was to give a clearer picture of where the series is going. It’s alluded throughout the issue and at the end, but that little bit doesn’t exactly plot the course for what to expect in the next issue. This is my one and only gripe with the issue.
David Baron’s writing is well-paced and clear to understand. He doesn’t waste time on extra details, and his narration from Emma’s perspective gives the reader a clear idea of her personality. That’s really important because most of her time is spent chasing down bounties and that doesn’t leave a lot of time for her true self to be broadcasted. By having her inner thoughts, we can see a clear picture of this woman.
There’s a clear influence of Ghost in the Shell with the design. That bit isn’t explained in this issue which was great because it gives you a reason to come back for more. The art is gritty and realistic, making it very different from GITS in that way. The action was easy to follow, and even when a character was talking a bit too much, it was still visually interesting. Emma’s design is very cool looking, and you’ll never get tired of seeing it throughout the issue.
Stained is close to being a perfect score for me, but that one troublesome detail keeps it from getting there. It’s still a hell of an issue and surprisingly refreshing considering how overdone the sci-fi, dystopian bounty hunter genre is currently in comics. Think about that, not only is that a genre, but it's one that’s been done to death in the past two years and yet here’s Stained making me want to read more like it already. It just goes to show, that a great comic will rise to the top no matter how saturated the market.
Writer/Colorist: David Baron
Artist: Yusuf Idris
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Publisher: 451 Media