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Graphic Novel Review: Marksmen Volume One by David Baxter, David Elliot and Javier Aranda

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Looking at the summer teleseries, Falling Skies, and seeing promos for the Machine Stops fall series Revolution, one can’t help noting the growth of post-Apocalyptic entertainments coming our way. Perhaps it’s a sign of the times: the audience need for reassurance that no matter how crappy things appear to be, we have survived worse. In comics, this grimly positive fantasy is currently repped by Benaroya/Image Comics’ Marksmen which recently saw its first trade release of the title’s opening six issues.

Set in western America after the country’s major economic collapse (“Too big to fail? That’s what all would say to each other about the American economy.”), the series follows the inhabitants of New San Diego after the country has devolved into a series of independent city-states surrounded by a wasteland populated by packs of “scum-sucking cannibals.” Our primary window into this rough world is marksman Drake McCoy, who we first meet scouting the Arizona desert on his horse and having to fend off a band of hungry punks. Turns out the land’s ragtag flesh-eaters are the least of his worries, however.

Meeting up with a group of refugees from the Texas enclave of Lone Star, our hero learns that the leaders of the faith-based city-state are planning on attacking New San Diego. Led by a bogus evangelical named Deacon Glenn and his henchman the Duke, the rangers from Lone Star are looking to steal NSD’s solar technology to replace its drying oil reserves. New San Diego’s leaders are comprised of somewhat self-satisfied scientists and military, with one of its biggest brains being Drake’s mother Dr. Sharon Heston. The group of refugees that’s come to warn the city include a former co-founder of the city, Joe Percival, who has a personal past with the MILF-y Dr. Sharon.

With Lone Star on the verge of attacking, the leaders of NSD put together a team to lead the defense against them, though the exception of the already identifiable Drake, this group proves largely indistinguishable. Bloody attacks, betrayals (at least one of the refugees has more than one agenda), sabotage of the city-state’s protective technology all add to the drama, though we never really doubt that the flawed-but-honest protectors of New San Diego won’t defeat the bad guys. There’s a thematic subplot imbedded in the story concerning the general NSD citizenry’s overuse of escapist technology, but writers David Baxter and David Elliott don’t push this very hard, preferring instead to focus on the action, team and family squabbles plus, of course, the inevitable scenes of self-righteous posturing by the hypocritical Lone Stars against the Godless secularists of New San Diego.

Artist Javier Aranda (aided by colorist Garry Leach’s predominately brown and blue toned palette) provides the proper Western/Apocalyptic look to the whole proceedings. With its cast of attractive-but-not-too-attractive good guys, you can easily imagine this series itself working well as a small-screen summer entertainment: one more slice of downer entertainment in the midst of these trying economic times.

About Bill Sherman

Bill Sherman is a Books editor for Blogcritics. With his lovely wife Rebecca Fox, he has co-authored a light-hearted fat acceptance romance entitled Measure By Measure.