“Shotgun Wedding” is a new mini-series from the Top Cow branch of Image Comics, released on a weekly basis through the month of April 2014. Part of me thinks that it’s a fun way to spotlight William Harms and Edward Pun’s comic, keeping the pace moving rapidly. But at the same time, I also can’t help but think that the weekly release might lessen the chance that readers will drop out, because based on the first issue, this all feels very familiar.
“Shotgun Wedding” #1 isn’t a bad concept, with Mike’s ex-fiancee Chloe left at the altar four years earlier and tracking him down for revenge. With Mike and Chloe both assassins, though, this is anything but a stern word being planned. And all the while, Mike’s new fiancee Denise is oblivious to the anger of a woman scorned coming zooming in her direction.
The problem is that for now, “Shotgun Wedding” #1 appears to be riding solely on the concept. None of the characters particularly stand out as interesting or more than two-dimensional at best, which is a shame. If this were a film, you could rely on the actors involved to try and elevate the material through sheer charisma. On the printed page, though, neither Mike nor Chloe come across as anything but “good-looking assassin” and “shrieking vengeful ex.” That’s not something to grab onto for the former, and honestly a tiny bit problematic for the latter as it threatens to veer into a negative stereotype of the awful ex-girlfriend. Readers are told via Mike’s mother that Chloe hurt Mike badly, but aren’t given any evidence of why Chloe is such an awful person. And so, based solely on what’s given, it’s hard to root for Mike or to castigate Chloe. Still, at least Chloe has that need for vengeance floating around her; Denise is a complete non-entity at this point, which means that either we shouldn’t expect much from the character, or for some sort of 11th hour swap where the lack of personality is hiding that Denise is yet another assassin.
Without any strong personalities, all that’s left is the plot, and that’s very average. We’ve had the squabbling couples who are also killers in a number of different forms (the film “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” is easily one of the most popular and successful, but it’s hardly the only instance), and for now “Shotgun Wedding” doesn’t bring anything new save for a clever title. If this is going to be strictly plot-oriented instead of full of interesting characters, that plot needs to get amped up a lot.
Pun’s art is perfectly fine; he’s good at those dead-eyed stares from Chloe, for instance, and Mike is drawn in a box-office-charming strong-jawed handsome. He’s at his best when drawing Mike zooming around on lines and wires while going after his target; it’s energetic and flows well from one moment to the next. Plunging down an elevator shaft, shooting a grappling hook, all of these bits give a good sense of motion. In those scenes, at least, there’s a little excitement thanks to Pun. I would like to see a bit more attention to backgrounds, though; there are a lot of scenes with either no background or just speed lines. It doesn’t make the world of “Shotgun Wedding” feel that visually robust.
“Shotgun Wedding” could very well get stronger in the remaining three issues. The potential is there, but so far it’s just not doing anything special. Hopefully Harms has something a little snazzier awaiting readers in the final three issues, but right now it’s just not bringing the wow factor.