Steven Grant has put together a modern noir tale about a couple of low level hoods who plot together to rob a bank. It turns out neither hood is who he says he is, each of their superiors have their own hidden agendas, and crossfires and betrayals are the name of the game. It helps to keep a scorecard as you’re reading along so you can keep track of who knows what and when they knew it.
Grant originally wrote this story as a screenplay for a feature film--and it’s important to point out that this is a noir tale, not an action movie script. The “action” scenes are fairly standard and old-school compared to the current trend of hyper-crazy stunts like those in Transporter and Crank. This is classic film noir updated to present day, with moral ambiguity front and center.
2 Guns asks the reader to ponder several questions. “Who do you trust?” “If you don’t trust someone, can you still work with that person to get what you want?” “How much do you risk if you do that?”
The artist, Mat Santolouco, seems to be part of a new wave of manga-inspired artists that now embody the new “Image-style”--many of whom draw books by Robert Kirkman, Jay Faerber, and the Luna Bros. This style is embodied by character work that relies on very clean artistic lines, almost cel animation style, with and emphasis on facial expressions.
However, elements of detail are largely abandoned. For example, hair is often unsatisfyingly portrayed as a solid helmet-like mass with only a few lines. Additionally, the settings in 2 Guns are remarkably sparse as the inhabitants of the apartments, banks, offices, and bars herein apparently like the look of blank walls, because you sure see a lot of that in 2 Guns.
This minimalist effect lends the feeling of a stage play to this story, and perhaps that would be the best venue to adapt it, as the cracking dialogue is certainly the main attraction. Since expressions are well done and the characters can be distinguished for the most part, the art is serviceable and gets the job done--if unspectacularly.
It’s clear from this book that the fact that Grant does not have his own crime series going is itself a crime. What a pity that the author of the outstanding Damned and Badlands has been relegated to the outskirts of the comics world, mostly working on TV spin-offs and the like. Somebody at Vertigo, Wildstorm, Icon, or Image needs to pair him up with a Michael Lark or a Sean Phillips (or how about old Mike Zeck again?) and set him loose.
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