12th Aug2015

Graphic Novel Review: ’13 Coins’

by Dean Fuller

Written by Martin Brennan, Michael B. Jackson | Art by Simon Bisley | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Hardback, 192pp

Titan-13-coinsHC.jpg.size-600

13 Coins Volume 1 collects together issues 1-6 of the 13 Coins mini-series, which was previously published by Corinthian Productions. The initial thing that caught my eye was the pedigree of the creative people involved. Eisner Award winning artist Simon Bisley is something of a legend in the field for his powerful, often uber-violent stylised artwork, (his Judge Dredd is still a personal favourite) and the writing team of Brennan and Jackson have a decent record as writers for computer games (Hitman:Absolution is on their resume, for example). Promising….

The set-up is one that is in every scriptwriters ‘how to…’ handbook. Essentially, normal guy bored with life discovers he is actually special and destined for better things; it plugs into all our subconscious desires, that there really is more to life than this. The average guy in this case is John Pozner, though as an ex-drug addict and ex-con maybe not so ‘normal’. John is thrown right in the middle of a centuries long battle between two factions of angels. The bad guys are ‘The Fallen’ ,with a mission to ultimately take down Heaven no less, the good guys are ‘The Sons of Noah’, tasked to protect Earth from those bad guys.

Not the most original of concepts, it must be said. We have seen variations on this horror/ mythology theme for many years in film, on TV, and in books and comics. It is a well trodden path indeed. In its favour is the fact that everything has been thought out really well, with a heavily detailed timeline and back story. On balance, the plot and story are pretty average; not bad, just not particularly good. Some characters come over well, some just seem instruments of the greater plot. I found the dialogue pretty good throughout though, not just exposition but suiting the flow of the story and the development of the character.

What raises 13 Coins Volume 1 above being a decent, but routine, Armageddon-tinged story is the artwork by Bisley, which doesn’t disappoint. His artwork is as powerful as ever, bringing a real edge of action and dynamism, pushing the story along at a frenetic pace. He shines most when letting rip with the over-the-top blood and thunder he is famous for, but can deliver solid low key scenes as well, when character dialogue is as important as the art. As an artist, he steps back when the story needs it, and comes forward more when it needs that too. The overall look and feel of this world and its characters are all Bisley’s designs and he has done a great job.

As is often the case, Bisley raises this up to the level of a recommended read. Without him, and with a less stylized artist, it would have been on the line between recommended and not. It’s nothing you’ve not seen before, delivered both better and worse, but Bisley gives it enough of a unique edge that I would recommend giving it a read. And we do all love a bit of Armageddon.

***½  3.5/5

13 Coins Volume 1 is out now from Titan Comics

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