“S.H.O.O.T. First” #1 has a bizarre and funny central concept: extra-dimensional creatures posing as angels and devils are invading our planet and preying on the believers, with only the Secular Humanist Occult Obliteration Taskforce (S.H.O.O.T.) able to stop them. Justin Aclin and Nicolas Daniel Selma’s comic, though, doesn’t ever quite carry through on that potential. In many ways, I feel like I’m reading the storyboards for a video game.
There are a lot of fun little bits, like guns that only work for those who have a complete lack of faith in the divine. Overall, though, Aclin’s script doesn’t come across as something naturalistic or normal to the ears. A character, one page after being rescued by S.H.O.O.T., goes from “I don’t know who you people are,” to independently adopting the codename of Infidel for himself when asked for his name. It’s odd and slightly off-putting; with characters forever rattling off names of their weapons and then having everything stop for huge stretches of information, you can almost see the cut scene playing out on an Xbox 360 or PS3 while you wait for the next mission to kick in. Who in the middle of a fight would stop to detail the material of their gloves to a teammate? Once again, you can practically see the selector hovering over the item being chosen by the player.
Selma’s art is very clean, but also a little stiff in places. I like his basic character designs; they use crisp ink lines and everyone’s very distinctive. At the same time, though, characters look posed rather than natural, and the number of characters who stare directly at the reader rather than other characters as they’re talking makes the video game feel that much more strong.
I wanted to love “S.H.O.O.T. First” #1, and I think the basic idea still holds a ton of potential. Aclin and Selma’s comic feels a little too stiff in both script and art, though; if everything could just relax a bit, I think it would be on the right path. For now, there’s not enough here to make me come running back for a second installment.