Story: Chris Warner
Art: Patrick Olliffe, Tom Nguyen
What They Say:
Grilled like a tough steak by mysterious federal agents, Barb Wire recounts her very first solo bounty hunt. What looks like an easy-money walk in the park quickly turns to a holy-@#$% run for survival as Barb discovers that her skip is hot property . . . and his pursuers don’t play!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Barb Wire hasn’t had the strongest outing with the new series and that’s been frustrating since there are so many potentially better ways it feels like it could be doing something. With the previous issue getting things moving in a new direction after having finally put the whole Stormblud arc behind us and the seemingly uninteresting shenanigans with some of the other street toughs and their leaders, it’s now gone with a focus on the past. Looking at a much younger Barb some twelve years ago with her first bounty and how badly it went can offer up a lot to work with, both in terms of character and the connection to the present. The problem is that you can read an issue like this and really come away at the end wondering why you read it as it feels empty.
Barb’s continued grilling by the mysterious men in suits about Avram Roman isn’t a bad thing and I’m even amused at the mild True Detective feeling we get from the artwork with it in how it’s presented when looking directly at her. She still can’t quite grasp why she’s being asked about him, even with the suits going on about how he’s potentially the Most Dangerous Man out there, which doesn’t quite square with her recollection of him. This is made harder for the reader because we only know the limited bit she knows, so we’re sitting here like Barb wondering what it’s all about as well. And since she’s getting treated to just Bad Cop and Bad Cop with no Good Cop in sight, it’s not exactly the most engaging of interrogations, particularly since she’s being fairly helpful overall.
What makes up most of the book is the tale from the past with Barb and Alonzo going after Avram and failing horribly for a lot of it. While he’s telling them they’re making a mistake, he’s just so bland and they’re so poor at this that it’s hard to imagine she’d really continue down this path. It takes weird detours along the way and throwing in with Alonzo and his Death Machine van just feels like forced caricature terribleness. The problem I kept coming to with it is that it’s so chock full of dialogue that doesn’t really say anything being placed on top of uninteresting minor action sequences that you’re left just scratching your head trying to find the point of it all. It’s a fairly typical disaster in Barb style – which we saw in the previous arc with how things fall apart for her – and it just doesn’t give us anything to really grab onto here to make it engaging.
As much as I like the potential of Barb I’m frustrated by the stories we do get. The focus on her past is not a bad thing since this is a new launch but it’s already entered that heavily decompressed realm tied to a story that just doesn’t feel engaging after two installments worth of it. Barb at this younger age isn’t exactly exciting or fun to watch either since we’ve barely gotten to really know her in the present. Everything feels like it’s something that should be done in maybe four pages of mild montage style flashback material so we can get into the story in the present, or just have more of the two mixed together. There’s only so much interest to be had in watching Barb get interrogated like this since we have no idea what the real motivation is at this point.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: December 2nd, 2015