Indie Comic Review: Scam #1

Scam appears to be the little comic that could.  Much like last year’s Our Love is Real, Scam was initially released in minuscule numbers.  Also, like Our Love is Real,  the buzz was so strong that it has picked up a publisher and is now seeing distribution through Diamond.  The real question is, should you go out and buy it?

SCAM is an “X-Men meets Oceans 11″ style story, and involves a team of super-powered grifters on the biggest con of their lives…taking down a Vegas casino and getting revenge on a former teammate who double-crossed them. SCAM#1 is the double-sized first installment of a five-issue mini-series.

The “X-Men meets Oceans 11″ is pretty accurate.  Toss in The Losers and I think you have a slightly more accurate description.  the double-cross angle is worked hard in Scam, and rightly so.  It is the most compelling piece of the plot and a strong motivator for all of the characters.  Normally the risk to reward rtatio in a job like this would be too much for a sane person to consider.  But with a double-cross/revenge element thrown in, there was no doubting that the cons were in for the heist.

The fact that it was a double-sized issue allowed the story to stretch and breathe.  All 48 pages were needed to give the action as well as the story enough traction.  As readers, we had to not only understand the depth of the double-cross, but we had to be introduced to the powers of each character in a natural way.  Instead of cramming it all in to one issue, or leaving readers hanging, Joe Mulvey gives it all to us in this issue.  The added pages also allow for subplots to be introduced which feel natural in the context of the relationships between the characters, but still leave some mystery to be revealed.

This is not to say Scam is perfect.  If there is any place where it grinds down a bit, it is in the dialogue.  Some of the lines coming from the characters’ mouths feel clunky and unnatural.  Part of the joy of Ocean’s 11 was how smooth each character was; how naturally they slipped in and out of conversations.  These thieves have a lot to learn from Danny Ocean’s crew about being smooth.

The art is pretty solid.  The action scenes work well, giving a sense of motion and action.  Mulvey’s close-ups of characters are also good, giving the reader plenty of facial expressions and personality to match each character.  It is the mid-range shots where things feel a bit flat.   The characters don’t quite seem to be a part of the scenes.  In a normal read, the scenes just kind of gloss over and you get lost in the conversations and the plot of putting together a heist.  But, on a re-read, those mid-range shots begin to stick out.

And Scam is the kind of book ou are going to want to read more than once.  Not because it is complex or because there is so much going on, but because it is fun.  Heist films are like that.  you see it once, then you want to see it again to pick up on all the little things you missed the first time through.  In the case of Scam, it is worth a re-read to figure out each team-member’s power.  It is worth a re-read to pick up on the little bits of dialogue that hint at deeper mysteries.  It is worth a re-read to just see how it all comes together (and falls apart).

So, to answer the question at the opening, yes, you should pick up Scam #1.  It is a fun heist comic with a twist.  There are parts which could be slightly improved, but this is a great debut from a new talent.

Scam #1 is in stores today.

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