Comic Review: Marksmen Issues #1 and #2

Marksmen, Issues #1 and #2
Written by David Baxter and Dave Elliott
Art by Javier Aranda, Jessica Kholine and Garry Leach
Cover by Tomm Coker
Image Comics
Release Dates: Issue #1, July 20, 2011; Issue #2, August 24, 2011
Cover Price: Issue #1, $1.00; Issue #2, $2.99

Today’s society is so dependent on fossil fuels, it is hard to imagine a world without them. We have been trying to develop alternative fuels for years, but the vast majority of the world still depends on oil to maintain their everyday lives. Apart from the environmental implications, alternative fuels are being sought out because one day, there may not be any more oil for us to burn up. When that day comes, how we will carry on? What will happen to American culture as we know it? This is the kind of stark future depicted in Image Comics Marksmen, written by David Baxter with art by Javier Aranda, Garry Leach, and Jessica Kholine.

Without oil to power its major cities, the America imagined in Marksmen is a bleak, violent, and divided one. Much of the landscape is very reminiscent of the old west, barren and lawless. In Marksmen #1 we meet Drake McCoy, a marksmen for the U.S. military based out of New San Diego. Along his patrol, Drake encounters several former inhabitants of a religious based colony known as Lone Star. The group warns Drake about a man known as the Duke, Lone Star’s self-appointed leader. The Duke intends to lead his people in a raid New San Diego in order to seize their technology and expand his rule.

The first two issues of this series revolves around lies, betrayal, and unsavory actions taken by those in command. Each character we meet is not who they say – or even think – they are. People who think they are heroes acting on their people’s behalf do not always make the best decisions, and their actions can only come back to haunt them as the story progresses.

Much of Marksmen plays like an old western film, combined with a military sensibility. Baxter has weaved many references to his influences throughout, from character names (“The Duke” is said to have lifted his moniker directly from John Wayne), to how the action plays out. Issue one begins with all the isolation and panic-inducing peril of a zombie epic, before reveling its western characteristics. By the issues end and into issue two, the story takes a sci-fi turn that is marked with the ongoing debate between science and religion. As convoluted as that may sound, Baxter manages to pay homage to all those influences and still retain a singular, even, action-driven narrative. The combined talents of Kholine, Leach, and Aranda give life to the world of Marksmen, contrasting the bold, electric colors of New San Diego against the darker, bland, dirt-covered outer territories.

There are enough elements at play in Marksmen to pique the interest of any fan of the aforementioned genres. The action is solid, and the story adds layers to the already interesting original concept as it progresses. As the series moves forward, I will be interested to see how the reveals are handled, and to see what further commentary will be made on what happens when a society collapses. I will definitely ask my local comic shop to keep Marksmen in stock, and you should too!

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