marks the return of Top Cow’s Pilot Season program for another year.
The initiative sees the first issue of 5 comics released within two
months. After the fifth and final comic is released fans are able to
vote for their favorite story and at the end of voting the book with
the most votes will receive a full series. It’s a great program
that’s thrown up some terrific stories, sadly 39 Minutes is
not one of them.
A group of highly efficient bank robbers target a
bank in small town USA. They kill any and everyone that gets in
their way. They are brutal, cold killers who also happen to be
ex-military. A shadowy Government contractor firm blackmails a guy
who looks like Jesus into catching the group, who just so happen to
be his former soldiers.
The thing with 39 Minutes is, mostly, it’s an
idea that’s been done so many times before on film that nothing
really shocked you in the comic. I saw elements of Swordfish,
Lethal Weapon and even The Rock to name a few. The
senseless violence of the robbers also makes it hard to feel for
them and the reasons why they are robbing these banks. If they were
more reluctant killers/criminals then maybe you could understand the
whole ‘forgotten by their country and reduced to this’ angle but
they almost seem to revel in the chaos of it all. There was also no
real attempt to differentiate the robbers so they were just faceless
villains. If we got to know the robbers then maybe we’d care about
them and understand the intense violence. Also bringing in the Jesus
guy who has no other choice but to help because dun dun dun they
were his men has also been done before and (SPOILER ALERT) by
showing you who’s pulling his strings at the end the book has
spoiled a potential twist for later on. The whole comic had this air
of being old and stale with no fresh, new ideas on offer. Sure it
has a socially relevant setting, the Iraq War, a brutal yet
efficient way of taking out a bank and a bit of a conspiracy theory,
but there needs to be more to it than that especially within the
Pilot Season program where a strong first issue decides whether the
series lives or dies. Nothing grabbed my attention and made me want
to see where the book would go in the future.
The artwork did not help the book either. Cars looked
blocky and lacked sleek lines, a lot of panels lacked definition and
detail even when marginal zooming out had taken place, faces were
often unnaturally contorted with strange expressions and seriously
what was up with John Clayton looking like Jesus with that
ridiculous hair? It was like it had a life of its own sometimes. The
violence was handled pretty well but I found the scene where the
local Sheriff tries to play the hero hard to follow and had to look
over it a few times to work out the general flow of the proceedings.
About the only thing that stood out about the artwork was the
bad-ass front cover. It certainly catches the eye and gives you a
fair idea of what the comic is about.
I love Top Cow’s Pilot Season program. It’s a great
way to see what books fans want to see made. Sadly, I don’t think
39 Minutes is going to be one of them. The issue just doesn’t
capture the reader’s attention in any way. Now the next Pilot Season
book Asset, which 39 Minutes contains a preview of
that has caught my attention.