What do you get if you mix the writers of Hitman: Absolution with UK comics legend Simon Bisley and an all new digital publishing company? Why its the epic 13 Coins digital comic from Corinthian Productions of course?
Publisher: Corinthian Productions
Writer: Martin Brennan, Michael B Jackson
Artist: Simon Bisley,
Price: Free to download issue #1
13 Coins is the debut launch from new digital publishing company Corinthian Productions. Released as a stand alone app rather than through a third party store front, the first episode is free to download with the five subsequent issues available for £1.99 each.
Because it is a standalone app it uses it’s own page turning interface (no Guided View fanciness here) with the pages composed of a fairly standard panel layout – or at least as standard as you get from Simon Bisley, the artist behind cult favourites like Lobo and Slaine. Although only on pencilling duties here the pages still crackle with Bisley’s trademark muscular style, and his art is then digitally coloured by Ryan Brown who does a fantastic job bringing the pages to life and giving the book the requisite bleak and gritty tone where needed.
You may wonder why we have focused thus far on the art and format of the book, rather than the story. Well in many ways it is on those which the success of the book hinges. The standalone nature of the app release helps separate it from the herd on storefronts like ComiXology but also means it needs to be compared with app-based titles like Madefire, (rather than traditional page turners) where competition for innovation and quality is very high and unfortunately there it comes up short.
Using a similar dynamic approach for it’s covers as Madefire (the artwork moves with the iPad as you look at it), which looks great with Bisley’s strong visuals, however the rest of the book lacks much of Madefire‘s flair and innovation. Bisley was a contemporary of Madefire founder Liam Sharp on the UK comics scene in the 1990s and comparing Sharp’s work on Captain Stone is Missing to Bisley’s work here is like night and day, with Bisley’s work feeling very pedstrian compared to Sharp’s spectacular mixed media work for Madefire.
The same is true of the story. The tale of demons and angels who now exist in modern times as exceptional individuals is an interesting enough premise but one we have seen countless times in vampire books and the like. The initial set up of a pre-history world where angels and demons battle for supremacy may allow Bisley to cut loose with the blood and guts (and is probably the highlight of this first issue) but it has a ‘been there, done that’ feel to it, especially for anyone who is a fan of writers like Neil Gaiman. It also feels very much like the back story for a video game, with it’s long winded exposition setting the tone for the main action of the game.
Unfortunately the action of the main
game story feels very predictable, relying on shoot-outs and shouting rather than interesting and compelling characters and storytelling. This may well improve in time of course as first issues with this much attempted depth rarely capture the subtlety of the character’s nuances in 30 pages, so lets hope they have something substantial planned for the long run, because on first impressions this book struggled to live up to the hype when compared to it’s contemporaries.
“Despite having a high profile artist and high production values for it’s app-based platform, 13 Coins struggles to stand out in the highly competitive world of app-based comics. A solid first issue that should improve with time, but it lacks that instant ‘wow’ factor when compared to others.”