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Comic Review: Marksmen
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Marksmen TPB
Story by David Baxter and Dave Elliott
Script by Dave Baxter
Art by Javier Aranda, Jessica Kholine and Garry Leach
Cover by Tomm Coker
Image Comics
Release Date: May 2, 2012
Cover Price: $15.99

There is a delicate balance between interjecting a message subtly into a story and becoming overly preachy. In some ways, a compelling story has to contain substance and a level of depth to justify itself to readers. On the other hand, when an author has his characters shout from a podium about a hot button issue, it can become tiresome very quickly. Throughout this entire comic, Marksmen walked that line between tactful narrative and evangelization. The creative team behind this comic is enormous, so I can see why some ideas may come off stronger than others. The problem is that, when you are dealing with a comic of this scope, a cohesive tone is paramount. Marksmen would be an incredible and fun comic, if only it would stop telling us what bad people we are.

In the beginning of Marksmen, we are introduced to an America that has been ravaged by war and revolt brought on by political unrest and energy shortages. As the country fell apart, two cities rose from the ashes and became beacons of safety for the nation. The residents of New San Diego are technologically advanced, Internet-dependent drones that rely on virtual reality-style glasses to transmit news and reality-style television to them. On the other side of this post-apocalyptic coin is Lone Star, a country of Bible-thumping oil-crazed cowboys. Let me stop here and say that, yes, this is going exactly where you think it is. As expected, the leaders of Lone Star have stirred up their citizens to believe that the technophiles in New San Diego are godless heathens. What occurs next is a war for energy, under the guise of a holy war. Writers David Baxter and Dave Elliott also tackle issues ranging from our reliance on technology, false prophets, love, paternity, and our lust for violence. That is a tall order to fill, and for the most part the team does an adequate job.

The problem in this comic occurs when Elliott and Baxter start to scold us as readers for our technology-crazed society. At one point in the comic the story’s protagonist says, “I can show you a new way to live without a high score to beat or a way to measure your worth without being ‘liked’ by a thousand friends.” As readers, are we supposed to believe that in a wartorn America where men eat one another for sustenance that Facebook still exists? It is moments like this that will force you out of this comic. In an effort to waggle their fingers at us for our energy consumption and thirst for new tech, Elliott and Baxter completely remove the immersive quality that this comic could have potentially had.

Artists Javier Aranda, Jessica Kholine, and Garry Leach show off an incredible amount of talent. Marksmen contains very clean and detail-driven artwork that lends itself wonderfully to this style of comic. I only wish that this great talent could be used for more than muscled up soldiers and insanely curvy women. I understand this is an action comic, but I just find it hard to understand why the only person charging into battle with no armor on is the comic’s bustiest woman. I know that sexy women move comics, but at the very least give the poor girl some body armor.

Reading Marksmen proved to be a much more polarizing experience than I thought it would be. At some points in the comic, the action and breakneck pace of this story captivated me. The rest of the time, I was rolling my eyes and groaning, as speeches about energy and technology were not so subtly worked into the story. If you can look past these attempts at teaching the reader a lesson, Marksmen will satisfy almost any action junkie’s appetite.

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