January 24th, 2011

Revolver (Matt Kindt)

Review by Simon Peters

Matt Kindt’s Super Spy enjoyed critical acclaim with indie-loving forumites pouring forth a great deal of love. So reviews of Revolver tended to follow the “not as good as Super Spy” template. Sadly, I haven’t yet got round to reading Super Spy so am forced to judge this on its concept alone.

And it’s a great concept. Protagonist Sam is a worker drone of the work-sleep-work-sleep variety until his sleep cycle is interrupted by an apocalyptic parallel existence a la Sliding Doors. In this world, millions have died, cities are destroyed and Sam must live off his wits and fists.

The story sets up an obvious Matrix-lite dichotomy: would you choose safe and dull or dangerous and exciting? Thankfully, Kindt does challenge the standard escapism – the world of adventure may wake you up to living but violence is nasty and brutish. Sam kills a man quite early on and this makes the quandary a little more morally ambiguous.

The most interesting thing Kindt does with the premise is the bleeding of the two realities into each other. Sam uses information gathered in one version of the world in the other: exploiting his boss with secrets he’s learned in the apocalyptic world, for example.

There’s a lot of story to be had here – but in a one-volume one-shot, Kindt doesn’t have the time or space to do a lot of it justice. Sam’s life in the mundane world really doesn’t paint him as a very likable character and although the relationship triangle of Sam, his girlfriend and his female boss has a lot of possibility, we just don’t get a chance to dig deep enough. The set-up would have been better suited to a slow-burning series in the style of The Walking Dead. Instead we get an intriguing premise that promises much but leaves most of the more interesting aspects to be worked on in your own imagination – and perhaps that’s all a one-shot can hope to do.

Kindt’s art is sparing – all strong lines and pastel shading. The difference between the worlds is pulled out very subtly (perhaps too subtle?) but the framing and panel arrangement is good if not ground-breaking.

Kindt’s writing is – arguably - better than his art and entertaining enough that I will seek out Super Spy. Despite it’s length (over 160 pages), Revolver feels like an intriguing premise played out in a sampler but it’s worth reading – if only to inspire someone to write an ongoing series.

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