25 Jan 2008

Graphic Perception: LEFT ON MISSON

Review by Matt T & Matt C

Writer: Chip Mosher
Art: Francesco Francavilla & Martin Thomas
Boom! Studios $14.99

Matt T: As many of you will know, we love non-spandex comics, if for nothing more than to prove the medium has the ability to reach far beyond standard superhero fare. Left On Mission is a perfect example of that: an espionage thriller with double-crossing agents and past indiscretions leading to some tension-filled set pieces.

It's a bit too easy to fall into the clich├ęd James Bond fare, sticking an alcoholic womaniser front and centre to swagger through the story but the protagonist, Eric Westfall, seems to be a far more rounded character than a one-note knock off, a man haunted by his past. He is pulled in for the obligatory 'one last job' which seemed like it might tip the book into the lazy territory but fortunately this isn't dwelt upon, and Left On Mission is all the better for it.

Matt C: Exotic locations, foxy babes and a hefty amount of gunplay - you can’t beat a good spy yarn and this book hits more right notes than it does wrong ones. We may have seen this kind of thing done a million times before but Left On Mission isn’t trying to be original, it’s utilizing the staples of the genre for maximum effect, ensuring the flow and the tone pull the reader into the story.

Matt T: The dialogue is focused, mainly because there isn’t a huge amount of it. The plot is established pretty quickly and, although there are a few twists and turns, it doesn’t make any annoying deviations. Even the flashback, which I normally hate with a passion, is treated in a functionary manner, elaborating on the subtle hints to the character’s history which may have been missed by some. I have to say though, I didn’t get on with art in places. I understand the need for basic shading and keeping the detail down for the action sequences, but I did find it slightly simplistic for such an atmospheric story.

Matt C: I actually liked the art quite a bit, I thought it was dynamic and moody with a superb rendering of some colourful locales. I’m not at all familiar with Francavilla’s work but I was impressed with his expertly orchestrated action sequences, particularly the nightclub scene - complete with strobing affect - which was beautifully choreographed. What I think was lacking was the chemistry between Westfall and Emma; it felt a little forced and rushed, but then I guess in a five-part spy thriller you don’t really want to linger on the love story.

Matt T: Overall I thought this was a strong and intelligently written tale with a fair few interesting characters. The conclusion did seem a little too convenient and while the last set piece was wonderfully tense and conceived, Westfall appeared to accept the outcome far too easily. I did feel like there could have been another fifty or so pages to round out Emma into something more than a photofit femme fatale but, for atmosphere and action, I’d rate it highly. 7/10

Matt C: It’s a brisk, exciting read, packed with all the right elements to keep fans of the spy genre entertained for the duration. Another superior production from Boom! Studios. 7/10

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