Finger Guns #1
Written by Justin Richards
Art by Val Halvorson and Rebecca Nalty
Lettering by Taylor Esposito
Published by Vault Comics
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
Writer Justin Richards and artist Val Halvorson add a slice of untethered passion to Vault Comics’ eclectic publishing schedule with Finger Guns #1, a high-concept new title that promises to make waves in the all-ages arena by asking “What if you could control people’s emotions?”
Wes is an angst-filled 13-year-old, permanently home alone thanks to his workaholic dad. A trip to the mall reveals a super-power - he can make people fly into a rage when he points two fingers at them. He soon stumbles into Sadie, who’s harnessed the power of using one finger to instantly calm them. The two start to experiment with their powers behind a backdrop of troubled home lives.
Justin Richards’ script accurately captures the awkward alienation of teenage life. It’s a refreshingly sparse script, forcing focus on the introspective nature of the main characters and underlining their own personal experiences of isolation. There’s a reason why Wes uses his finger guns to anger and Sadie uses hers to calm, which Richards uses to ratchet up the tension as the issue progresses. Dialogue is simple and to the point, relying on Val Halvorson’s distinctly big-eyed and pointy-chinned portraits to carry the weighty emotional drama.
Halvorson has a real sense for dynamic posing that runs through every character, making for a dramatic issue that shout. The world ducks, dives and dodges. It’s a very animated comic book, relishing in the medium and offering up as much motion as your eyeballs can handle. Halvorson’s even panel distribution gives a neat symmetry to the kids’ lives, uniting and dividing them to suit the story’s need. Halvorson and Richards are in storytelling sync here, stripping back unnecessary background to place emotion at the forefront of every panel. This reviewer first got his hands on Finger Guns #1 in unlettered form, and it’s a testament to the creative team’s sense of visual storytelling that very little of the story was lost by stripping out the dialogue.
Atop Halvorson’s pencils, colorist Rebecca Nalty brightens up the page with a neon color palette evocative of Slurpees and skateboarding. Purples, greens, and oranges feature prominently, filling in Halvorson’s blank backgrounds and bathing her characters in their own feelings.
Taylor Esposito finishes off the aesthetic feast, with tightly rounded letters that match the light and bouncy feel of Halvorson’s artwork, whilst accompanying the finger guns themselves with a fiery red KRAK and a contrastingly cool blue ZZT.
Finger Guns #1 is a simple concept, executed with the kind of single-mindedness that comes with total confidence in the book’s core premise. The story’s minimalism makes for a brief read, but it is a powerful one. All in all, Finger Guns #1 is an opening chapter that exudes the quality of a school library favorite. A series to watch.