Flak Riot #1

Written by: Michael O’Hare & Robert Hapton
Art: Michael O’Hare
Colors: Mike Garcia
Letters: Jason Levine
Image Comics

One of the more interesting aspects of covering the “indy scene” is that you get to see what the burgeoning comics scene is unveiling. Sometimes, the book is a stinker; sometimes, it smacks you across the face with fresh coolness; and at other times, you’re left underwhelmed. Flak Riot #1 is a cute and honest good try, but it just doesn’t go very far.

We start with a cliché: the seedy bar populated with seedy characters. Seedy character 1 is beset by his sometime colleague, Boss Gila. Turns out that Jack (that’s #1) has info that Seedy Character 2 (that’s Gila) wants. Gila has thugs, and we cut to…

The Main Character!

*ahem* Um…it’s just not good form to focus so many pages on a character who ultimately disappears. That’s reason #4365 that Les Miserables sucked – what happened to the f*cking bishop?!

Anyway, back to the main story. Y’see, the first few pages take place in “The Riot,” a sort of extra-dimensional wayplace where thugs and seedy characters gather. The main story of Issue 1 takes place on good ol’ Earth, where Zoe fills out the mousy character requirement. She’s a redheaded, spectacled drone who just wants a little excitement and attention. She answers an ad in the paper and enrolls the Flak School of bounty hunting. She’s trained by a fembot, a dude with a moustache, and a wacky Asian genius to essentially survive in The Riot. Unfortunately for her, the training only lasts three days before she’s booted into that next dimension for her “graduation exercise.”

I read the book from cover to cover, but try as I might, I just couldn’t care. I’m not throwing in any details about the story, and you’ll get the same effect. O’Hare and Hapton have literally thrown a bunch of clichés together in a self-conscious way and kinda hoped you’d think they were being clever. There’s a lot of obvious work and care that went into the this book, but it’s saddled with too much crap to work, at least in Issue 1.

“Come on, it can’t be that bad,” you say. “So what if they’re using worn-out plot elements? What’s so bad about that?”

Well, nothing, if it’s done well. The problem is that is that the book itself isn’t very well written. It jumps from over-expository captioning to some decent dialogue-and-panel storytelling to over-expository dialoguing. On top of the basic weakness of the writing, O’Hare and Hapton try to dress up their worn-out devices in sci-fi overtones. It’s not enough, though – not nearly enough to keep my interest.

If the writing’s weak to fair, then the art is fair to excellent. The art is a bit reminiscent of Campbell’s work on Gen13, but the lines are clean and the storytelling excellent from panel to panel, visually speaking. O’Hare’s illustrations move nicely, and Garcia’s muted colors work nicely to bring a slightly depressed tone to what could be an obnoxiously loud book.