It's the last Pilot Season one-shot; It's the one that's going to be the most fresh in your mind come voting on the 1st of November. Such a pleasure, then, that Top Cow have decided to end this competition with their strongest one-shot by far.
A comic shouldn't just be a high concept on display at all times. There's no depth to that, there's no real craft. But in this competition you kind of have to put your elevator pitch first. It is the ultimate hook that's going to get the votes and hopefully turn this introductory toe-dipping into a full length belly flop into the waters of this tale. The concept here demands nothing but a 10m board.
Imagine you're a mercenary killer, and look like you just stepped out of a Coppola frame from the early 70's. Then some kid blasts a hole in your head big enough to let all your dreams escape. As you plummet towards the fiery reward you've certainly earned, you are plucked up by a very attractive woman named Mandy. With glowing eyes, she makes you a deal. She's stay your sweaty eternal damnation if you'll kill a mark she sets within seven days. Once that's done, the clock resets: another seven days, another mark. You'll be keeping your soul out of hell one week at a time, and knocking off one mortal soul in that time frame.
This concept is very cool and gives this series a wide variety of places to go. And I'd be interested in travelling to all of them. The character work here is a bit thin which, though a shame, is not insurmountable. We get an idea of who John is, and who he was. The only thing that isn't exactly crystal is Mandy. Her motivations and abilities are clouded in mystery. It raises questions: why would she do this? How can she do this? What's the end game? These questions raised are good things. I am intrigued, and I would quite probably buy a second issue of this.
The art is very effective at building a noir vibe. There might be a supernatural conceit at its heart, but this is a crime comic. Bad guys are going to die, women are going to be topless, men are going to grizzle through straight alcohol and harsh killings. Noto gives each scene a bleached out look as if the film stock has already done a circuit of the country and is only just now showing in your town. He might use a few too many lines at times, but overall he's helping this tale at every turn, not hurting it.
The best has been saved for last. It's not just that this concept is damn interesting and has plenty of room to drive, this intro comic gives us plenty and works as a sample taste to lure the reader in and demand they delve deeper to see if this is all as it should be. This is, by far, the best Pilot Season one-shot and I hope people give this a go, and then give their support with some votes at topcow.com come the start of November.