Spoiler-Free Review: Bounty Volume 1
Rat Queens creator Kurtis Wiebe partners with artist Mindy Lee on the sci-fi action comic Bounty. Volume 1 collects issues #1-5 of the series, published by Dark Horse Comics.
High-tech hacking, high-stakes bounties in a space opera for the ages. Bounty stands in a class of it’s own, but for the sake of giving some context: it’s Cowboy Bebop given a visual restyling à la Fifth Element.
Bounty is a beguiling, multi-layered masterpiece. The team’s quirky camaraderie, witty dialogue, and Lee’s Bruce Timm-esque art style makes Bounty a book you’ll be unable to put down. It’s a crucial addition to any comic fan’s bookshelf.
The Whole Story
The Gadflies: cat-burglar sister duo Nina and Georgie and their support, hacker extraordinaire, Viv – were once on top of the world. Notorious criminals, sure, but they had all the money they could want — stolen from the evil Regal Corporation.
Then, after one botched job, the Gadflies find themselves penniless, identity-less, and living on the fringe of society. Together, they turn to work as bounty hunters. It’s the perfect occupation to keep their identities secret, but conflicts with their still-held altruistic beliefs. They often find themselves betraying their ideologies by taking bounties for the company they used to rob, all to scrape together a few credits.
Weibe and Lee work in perfect tandem throughout the volume, bringing depth of character to the ensemble cast in a relatively short amount of time. As bounty hunters Nina (the brawn) now partners in the field with Alan (the Xander), Georgie’s husband. Owing to a shattered knee, Georgie (the brain) now supports the team from the sky as pilot, while Viv (the rogue) continues her cyber attacks. It’s a cool as hell crew dynamic that’s explosive on the page.
I’d be remiss if I omitted mentioning Viv’s ethereal hacking environment. It appears that 200 years in the future, hacking has evolved into a VR battle-scape. Much like plugging into The Matrix, Viv enters a virtual representation of the net. She gains access to systems by commandeering network nodes run by robots, and defeating attack software in hand-to-hand combat. Needless to say, this future system of hacking seems pretty rad.
Bounty also has a solid supporting cast, with lots to love. For instance, the robot doctor’s canny commentary (“Human feelings are a weakness, and as your doctor I advise against them.”) and rival bounty hunter Sovereign’s surprisingly expressive emoticon face; every character has distinctly defined eccentricities.
Ultimately, the story is at it’s best when our cast is working together on a bounty. Which, fortunately, is frequently. Quippy commentary and fast-paced action keep the pages turning. And when we find our tough-as-nails heroine can be blinded by affairs of the heart as naively as a schoolgirl… well, that’s when it’s time to really buckle in for a ride.