On the surface, you might think you already know what you need to about Jimmie Robinson’s “Five Weapons” #1, telling the story of Tyler Shainline as he arrives at the School of Five Weapons. With the son of famous hitmen who is going to a private school specializing in weapon instruction for assassins, you’ll probably think you know where this is going. But in adding in a twist partway through this first issue, Robinson turns everything on its head and makes it even more entertaining that you might first have imagined.
The great thing about “Five Weapons” #1 is that even without the surprise, it would work as a good comic. Robinson starts the book as Tyler arrives at Five Weapons, and through his eyes as a newcomer, readers are quickly introduced to the idea behind the school as well as the five different disciplines/clubs that exist there (knife, staff, archery, exotic, gun). As Tyler’s pressured by different clubs to join them — most notably the knife club, of which his guide Jade is the president — the creative team also shows there’s more to the comic than just this simple question of Tyler’s choice. Readers learn about mysteries involving both Principle O and the school nurse, for example, or the strict rules involving duels in the school. It’s a set-up that Robinson has clearly put a lot of thought into.
What’s even better, though, is that Robinson has also taken care to explain some mysteries as he goes along to keep the readers from being in the dark. After Tyler reveals all sorts of pieces of information that he’s learned since arriving, Robinson then rewinds to explain how it all comes together. For a big mystery that could have been kept until the end of the mini-series involving Tyler’s true purpose for arriving at Five Weapons, I appreciated that readers instead learn about it in the first issue. It adds a bit of urgency to the story, even as it makes me appreciate Robinson’s storytelling that much more.
Artistically, “Five Weapons” is a lot of fun. The character designs alone are reason to read “Five Weapons” #1; I love the bullseyes on all of the students’ chests, for example, or the beautiful little curls at the ends of people’s hair like Jade or Principal O. At the same time, though, Robinson uses some moments of absurdity in his visuals to keep the tone light. This could easily be a grim and dark series, but seeing Miss Featherwind with an arrow protruding through her head with no ill-effects, or the dark isolated figure of Ms. L’Harma in contrast to the crowded fields for all the other clubs, and you can’t help but chuckle.
Robinson’s also not afraid to play with the conventions of comics when necessary. One character claiming to be invisible is really just ducking down beyond the edge of a panel border, for instance; as Robinson pans down to show us what’s really going on (and also providing a sight-line for Tyler as he also figures out the truth), you have to laugh. It’s a gag that really only works in a medium like comics, and it’s that sort of thing that reminds me why Robinson is a creator to watch.
“Five Weapons” #1 is a mini-series that’s off to a great start, and one of the things I appreciate even more about it is that I feel like this could ultimately stand on its own, or also become a series of mini-series. Right now I’m hoping for the latter only because I feel like there’s so much story potential that Robinson could go for years, but I’d respect the former as well. Either way, though, this is a comic that you should definitely take a look at. “Five Weapons” is both fun and clever, and that’s a combination you shouldn’t ever pass up.