S.H.O.O.T. First #1
Story by Justin Aclin
Art by Nicolas Daniel Selma
Colors by Marlac
Letters by Amanda Aguilar Selma
Review by Joey Braccino
Dark Horse Comics’ latest series, S.H.O.O.T. First #1, focuses on an elite team of secular humanists hell-bent on fighting back against the Outside Actors—gods, angels, demons, jinn, etc.—that suppress our freedom through faith. It’s a controversial conceit to say the least, but Justin Aclin handles the topic with enough care and high-concept fantasy to make for an engaging first issue.
S.H.O.O.T. First #1 splits its time evenly between watching the Secular Humanist Occult Obliteration Taskforce (S.H.O.O.T.) in action and explaining the origins of the organization itself. The action sequence plays out in a mosque, where a suicide bombing actually turns out to be a super jinn attack. The jinn are attempting to capture and exploit the faithful and use their beliefs as energy. S.H.O.O.T. arrives and does battle with the jinn, while a bystander who just renounced God a panel before gets caught up in the hooplah. This “infidel” (as is the name he takes later in the issue) joins the battle and ultimately is taken with S.H.O.O.T. once the dust settles. Aclin then takes advantage of the Infidel’s newbie status to provide necessary exposition to the audience.
A lot of information is crammed into this issue, and Aclin is asking his audience to take in a lot of heavy philosophizing and religious theory, but he does so with a post-modern bent reminiscent of Warren Ellis’ deconstruction of superheroics in his acclaimed 2006 series, NEXTWAVE: Agents of H.A.T.E. Whereas Ellis’ work took on the hypocritical geopolitics of the mid-2000s, Aclin’s new series targets religiosity, the apocalypse, and faith. In fact, furthering the comparison to NEXTWAVE, Nicolas Daniel Selma’s dynamic aesthetic channels Stuart Immonen’s cinematic aesthetic.
Dark Horse’s catalog plugs the books as “irreverent,” but End Times of Bram and Ben this is not; instead, S.H.O.O.T. takes its high-concepts and big questions seriously, eschewing cheap humor and offensive gags in favor of characterization and conflict. Unlike Bram and Ben, I’m actually intrigued by S.H.O.O.T. and I’m looking forward to watching the Infidel (our audience identifier) and the team take on the angels and demons that suppress us.
Check it out! S.H.O.O.T. First #1 is an intriguing new series from Dark Horse Comics. Aclin’s story raises big questions about faith and freedom, but does so without getting bogged down in intensive philosophizing or faux-intellectualism. Instead, Aclin gives us an explosive, high-octane action comic set in a world of deconstructed fantasy and occultism. A lot goes down in this debut issue, promising a meaty, exciting story down the line.