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"You're looking at eighteen months' intensive deep cover to get all your criminal friends in one place. I wasn't proud of what I did in this holo-suit, but I'll do what it takes if the price is right."
Oh, the look on the lured victim's fast-paling face!
And oh, the glee in the patient angler's grin...
I chuckled like a sixteen-year-old schoolboy.
Mark Millar enjoys throwing it all about these days, hopping swiftly from one speculative sub-genre to another, as if the last one's caught fire, in a concerted effort to cater for as many science-fiction tastes as possible. It's quite a broad church. Admittedly it is a prerequisite that any of those tastes include an attraction to action, arched-eyebrow attitude and more often than not a certain degree of sexual mischief.
He's not lingering long enough in any one territory for some serious dissection. Quiet and contemplative, he's not. Not any longer, anyway. It's been a while since JUPITER'S LEGACY VOL ONE, JUPITER'S CIRCLE VOL ONE and TWO then JUPITER'S LEGACY VOL TWO (to be read in that order, and highly recommended), and much longer still since THE ULTIMATES (ditto). But since most of Millar's recent set-ups could be considered emergency situations leaving his protagonists neither time to consider nor room for manoeuvre, it works.
Like Millar's own EMPRESS with art by Stuart Immonen, we're once more flying across the cosmos, albeit in a space-faring ice-cream van, such is Sharkey's woeful credit status. And with painterly art by Simone Bianchi, Warren Ellis's artistic partner on the self-contained ASTONISHING X-MEN: GHOST BOX, this may well appeal also to those of a European Humanoids persuasion.
I also sensed trappings of old-school 2000 AD, the bawdy bits of Garth Ennis and Goran Parlov's first Barracuda story in PUNISHER MAX VOL 5, the first two Keith Giffen, Alan Grant and Simon Bisley LOBO mini-series, and perhaps Warren Ellis and D'Israeli's LAZARUS CHURCHYARD (there's even a toilet in the first few pages, though thankfully it keeps its own counsel).
That doesn't smell overly fresh, does it?
Even the woman determined to transform herself into a security vehicle smacked of something which Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen's DESCENDER dealt with in far more depth.
Yet I was entertained, momentarily.
MAGIC ORDER is where brevity has worked best for Millar most recently - indeed it proved pivotal to the proceedings, rendering the last two of six chapters side-blindingly brilliant in their multiple reveals - and I'll be back to beseech you to buy that book once it's been collected, with a far more reasoned response.
For now: contrary to his outward disdain for others and against his better judgement, bounty hunter Sharkey saddles himself with a pre-teen side-kick after handing the boy's bald uncle in for a lot less lolly than was originally offered because he's so massively in dept that bondsmen have been instructed to deduct it from his earnings at source. Fortunately a much more lucrative contract is offered and that's where we're heading, only it's been openly tendered so expect competition - from the bloke gloating in the pull quote, for one.
Thanks to Simone Bianchi - still employing the trademark white-lined cut-out effect surrounding some faces and forms - Sharkey with his nascent handlebar moustache comes off like Nick Cave circa 'White Lunar' with the other Warren Ellis. The big difference is that above his long-worn, slick black hair, Saint Nick's not bald on top. Sharkey most emphatically is.
On confronting his shaven-haired quarry, this led Sharkey to a proud bald-bloke joke which our Jonathan enjoyed enormously. As did I, for I too am an angler, patiently waiting with a small smile on my face for J's inevitable Day of Decision.