Chain Reactions | Does 'Five Weapons' make the grade?

Jimmie Robinson left New Port City this week to enroll in the School of Five Weapons, a specialized school where assassins send their kids for education and training in one of the five deadly weapons that's also the setting for Robinson's new five-issue miniseries, Five Weapons. The series, written and drawn by Robinson, stars Tyler, a new student who doesn't have any fighting skills but plans to rule the school using his razor-sharp mind.

"Tyler is a 13-year old kid, so his motivations for attending this specialized school are a bit complicated. This will become clear by the end of the first issue, and I don't want to entirely give it away right now because Tyler has a secret that will hinge on the whole story," Robinson told CBR News. "But the bottom line is, Tyler is a street smart and brilliantly observant kid. He's a bit like a young Sherlock Holmes; nothing escapes his view, and he's just wise enough and smart enough to put things together that will squeak him through some of the most difficult and dangerous situations."

So how do Tyler and his adventures in murder school measure up? Here are a few reviews from around the web:

Walker Faison, Fanboy Comics: "My favorite part of the premise so far is the inverted role of the hero. It’s simple, but clever. In a story where everyone has advanced fighting skills, the protagonist is exceptional in that he avoids conflict. A possible mentor is introduced, as well, in my favorite of the ancillary characters. Hopefully, we’ll see more of her as the story continues. There are hints of a societal structure at play that are interesting but undeveloped as of the end of issue one."

David Brothers, ComicsAlliance: "There are two major twists in Jimmie Robinson's Five Weapons. The first one comes fairly early on, and is what convinced me to stick with the comic through its run. The second twist comes later, and it's not so much a plot twist as a plot twist of the knife -- it takes what you think you know and holds a knife to its throat in a dark alley. The second twist is killer."

Grant McLaughlin, Weekly Crisis: "Robinson's storytelling is incredibly focused, with no single moment feeling wasted. Even the smallest detail seemingly ends up being important as new questions and reveals are raised. We learn a lot over the course of this issue, and some of the things we learn place earlier lessons in new light or show them to be entirely false. It's an interesting narrative choice that ably shows this comic to be far more than a gimmicky story about child assassins. The final moments of the book both come out of let field and are telegraph pretty much from the get go, leaving the reader wanting more. Fortunately, it appears that Robinson will be delving into the depth that he's hinted at throughout this issue."

Vince Ostrowski, Multiversity Comics: “'Kids with weapons' sounds like something designed to give parents and certain interest groups nightmares. Aside from the basic understanding that kids and weapons is a huge taboo in and of itself, this book is really harmless in that way. There’s no over-the-top violence and while it’s definitely lighthearted, it doesn’t make the use of weapons particularly glamorous. The story doesn’t really ask questions about the ethics weapon-use, but through Tyler’s point of view and sense of honor, kids using weapons comes off looking very appropriately like a bad idea as each new student shows up at the nurses’ office. This view point serves his character and never feels preachy and doesn’t take sides. Jimmie Robinson makes sure that Five Weapons about being fun, above all else." (9.6/10)

Steve Paugh, Comic Bastards: "The story is a bit more disappointing, if for no other reason than it’s pretty predictable. It also drags at points, repetitively forcing itself along at the end. Finally, I have no vested interest in this character, who comes off so smugly at some points, I wish he’d catch a stray bullet. The mellow reveal at the end was satisfying enough to keep me interested, but I swear to god, if this kid says something along the lines of, 'I choose the most powerful weapon ... my mind,' I’m not gonna be amused." (3/5)

Lan Pitts, Newsarama: "Doing triple duty of writing, pencils, and lettering, Robinson doesn't lose any stride along the way. The panel construction and layouts are sharp and comprehensive, and while the dialog comes at you fast and fierce, nothing is lost along the way. We meet a multitude of characters, both friends and enemies, but never overwhelmed by this new world and its inhabitants. Robinson's art style is reminiscent to the Saturday morning cartoons of my youth, but maintains an edge of danger throughout the issue. His return to the more young-adult type of stories is a welcomed one here, and if Five Weapons is any indication of what lies ahead, I say let's welcome more." (10/10)

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