Book Retort: BRIGANDS #1

Written by Adrian Nelsen

BRIGANDS, a new comic book series published by Action Lab Entertainment warns prospective readers spiritedly: “THIS BOOK CONTAINS BLOODWORK, BLADEWORK AND FAST-TALKING SHARP-TONGUED DEVILS”.  The warning, while playful, is certainly representative of the Danger Zone label under which it’s marketed, one that recommends it for older teens and mature adult readers.

A medieval fantasy adventure, BRIGANDS immediately evokes the time-honored trope of societal outcasts brought together to undertake a mission; a mission against all odds.  In this case it’s a group of ragtag ne’er-do-wells led by the rogue-like Stilian Desault – an apparently scandalous criminal of the realm.  At the last minute, a shady and powerful Machiavellian agent of the king saves the condemned man Stilian from the chopping block.  Stilian is offered a pardon for himself, and for those who he enlists in undertaking a clearly perilous mission to retrieve an object of power.

In short order, the story captivatingly juxtaposes, the flashback of Desault’s reprieve and much of the opening story’s background narrative, with an action-packed daring heist involving an old friend (and first member of his devil-may-care group of brigands,) a slick, fast talking female bandit named Veina.  In the end, without spoiling anything, the reader is left with a rather comedic little cliffhanger, tugging us into the next chapter of this promising adventure.

Now, isn’t all of this a bit derivative you might ask?  Perhaps it is.  But how many works of popular culture can claim otherwise nowadays?  BRIGANDS certainly follows an often-used trope, played out in films such as the classic, the Dirty Dozen, or more recently, Suicide Squad and Rogue One.  However, the medium, the writing, and the medieval fantasy setting deliver a fun jaunt that’s not unlike a tabletop roleplaying game adventure.  Furthermore, BRIGANDS conjures imagery of the 1985 films Ladyhawke (similar setting) and Paul Verhoeven’s Flesh + Blood (similar character’s societal point of view, although no indicators are evident to suggest that BRIGANDS will reach the darkness that Verhoeven’s film reveled in.)

So, in wrapping up this little review, lets talk about aspects of the medium itself.  Yep, it’s definitely a comic book.  Is this an obtuse statement?  Perhaps.  Obvious? I would hope so…  While I’m only a casual reader of comic books, I do think it’s safe to say that I know a decent one when I see it, and I’d like to think that those who find themselves reading this review, would know it too.  So, what about being a comic book?  It has much of the usual fare.  It’s bright and crisp, conveying emotion and mood. It visually moves the action along, and, well, overall, it does its job.  In other words, BRIGANDS doesn’t appear to be attempting to stretch the artistic and stylistic fringes of the medium.  Then again, it doesn’t really need to. In every other regard it’s a solid comic book. Where it ultimately shines, is in its content; an intriguingly fun little story worthy of both casual reading, and perhaps even more.

BRIGANDS was first released in November of 2016. Issues #1-5 are currently available, and #6 is coming soon!

BRIGANDS #1 is created by an eclectic, and talented international crew, including its writer Ram V, artist Nick Barber, colorist James Lewis, Letterer Kel Nuttal, along with cover artists Mukesh Singh and Anand Radhakrishnan. More information about these creators fellows can be found HERE.