Spies, meta-fiction, genre deconstruction, and prose back-matter. And it’s good. So… this is a Matt Kindt comic book.
The latest Dark Horse series from cartoonist Matt Kindt and artist Wilfredo Torres is a science fiction thriller about decontsructing popular fiction archetypes. A superspy, aging mystery writer, and a man of action are connected to one individual — a man with secrets that could destroy all of reality. What unfolds in a well executed and though provoking mystery.
Bang! is another example of why Matt Kindt is one of comics best storytellers. The first issue begins like a typical James Bond story by hitting every beat one would expect from the iconic multimedia franchise. It’s entertaining and fun, especially with Torres drawing each but of action, but the real fun only starts after the opening sequence is over.
What follow the opening scene is a trippy, spy story that shares more in common with The Prisoner than Casino Royale. Kindt and Torres weave a compelling mystery that promises to be an interesting de-construction of popular fiction archetypes. Bang! #1’s plot twists turns traditional spy genre tropes on their head, which is highly entertaining and an interesting commentary on a classic genre.
The main protagonist, Thomas Cord, is easily identifiable due to the archetype he is associated with (James Bond). Cord’s complicated back story — memories he can’t possibly possess — could prove to be an interesting exploration of how the character of James Bond has evolved since his inception. Kindt also creates inner conflict within Cord that builds to Bang! #1’s both perplexing and enticing cliffhanger ending. In that way, Cord is more than just a Bond stand in.
As mentioned prior, Wilfredo Torres is a great artist. Despite it’s introspective tone, Bang!, as the title suggests, is filled with action. Torres’ figures are kinetic, and his ability depict emotion in his characters’ faces is second to none. I also enjoy how Torres uses the design of the panels to tell the story, in particular, how a panel shapes can convey to a reader the character’s state of mind.
The prose pieces included by Kindt are a nice addition to Bang! #1. Located on the first and last page, the two pages of prose add to the story by of Bang! #1 by providing a longer reading experience and how they fit into the larger narrative. Not only do the prose pieces add a little more meat to the single issue reading experience, they also mimic the style of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels which fits with Kindt’s approach to spy fiction in Bang! #1.
This is the best first issue I’ve read so far in 2020, and I highly recommend reading this series monthly to enjoy the back-matter material (well backfront matter in this case). It’s well worth it.