Sunday, July 19, 2015

Review: BARB WIRE Volume 2 #1

DARK HORSE COMICS – @DarkHorseComics

[Originally posted on Patreon.]

WRITER: Chris Warner
PENCILS:  Patrick Olliffe
INKS: Tom Nguyen
COLORS: Gabe Eltaeb
LETTERS: Michael Heisler
COVER: Adam Hughes
EDITOR: Scott Allie
28pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (July 2015)

Steel Harbor Blues Part 1

Barbara Kopetski a.k.a “Barb Wire,” is a Dark Horse Comics character.  She made her first appearance two decades ago in Comics Greatest World: Steel Harbor Week 1 and was created by Chris Warner, apparently with the assistance of something called “Team CGW” (Mike Richardson, Randy Stradley, Barbara Kesel, Jerry Prosser, Chris Warner).

Barb is a bar owner and works as a part-time bounty hunter in order to pay the bills for her bar (“The Hammerhead”).  She lives in Steel Harbor, which is the kind of crime-ridden, gang-infested, bombed-out, wreck of a town that is a good setting for storytelling.

Dark Horse is bring Barb Wire back to comic books in Barb Wire Volume 2.  The new series is written by creator Chris Warner, penciled by Patrick Olliffe, inked by Tom Nguyen, colored by Gabe Eltaeb, and lettered by Michael Heisler, with covers by Adam Hughes.

Barb Wire Volume 2 #1 (“Steel Harbor Blues Part 1”) opens with Barb playing bail enforcement agent to bring in a character named Amos Lomas.  Back at The Hammerhead, there is the kind of trouble that leads to difficulties and destruction and the need for more money for bar repairs.  However, Barb's troubles are moving past rowdy patrons and gang disputes.  Steel Harbor's new mayor, Victoria Castle, wants to clean up the city, and Barb's treasures may face a bulldozer.

Barb Wire Volume 2 #1 is one of the most low-key first issues that I have ever read.  It is not at all a poorly produced comic book.  The art team of Patrick Olliffe and Tom Nguyen deliver some impressive compositions with pleasing page designs.  The storytelling, however, lacks spark because the script from which the artists work is competent, but would never be mistakenly described as “explosive.”  Still, I must admit to being impressed that Chris Warner is making gentrification and class the impetus for conflict in this story.

I can't see anyone beside fans of Barb Wire and people who look to try first issues buying Barb Wire Volume 2 #1.  The first trade paperback will probably be a good read, but, as first issues go, this first issue is just too much set-up and is also too damn nonchalant.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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