The fine folk at Vault Comics continue their fantastic form of 2019, with Finger Guns another outstanding comic from Justin Richards and Val Halvorson, that’s puts two fingers up to it’s competitors!
Publisher: Vault Comics
Writer: Justin Richards
Artist: Val Halvorson, Rebecca Nalty (Colours), Taylor Esposito (Lettering)
Price: £2.49 from ComiXology
Wes is your average high school kid – managing homework, detentions, an absent father and all the usual teen angst stuff. Yet one day on his way home from school he finds out that by pointing two fingers at someone (ie.e making a ‘finger gun’) he can make people angry! As far as super powers go, it’s not the best, but it gives him some fun, until he crosses paths with Sadie – who happens to also have finger based powers (careful now!!), except hers make people calm down.
Based on that synopsis you’d be forgiven for thinking Vault have completely lost the plot and commissioned something utterly vacuous. But don’t worry, they haven’t! As the story builds from this first encounter we get the usual ‘discovery of powers’ narrative we are familiar with in classic hero books, but it is all told with an originality and under arching air of confidence and cool from Richards and Halvorson.
It’s one of those delightfully simple, but strange ideas, that can only work in comics. It plays with genre conventions and assumes a level of knowledge and understanding of the medium, but without labouring the point and making the story unreadable. It’s a delicate balancing act to get right, but Richards and Halvorson manage it to perfection and turn what could be a one note joke into a really well told and constructed story – with plenty of room for development.
It’s definitely helped by some exquisite artwork from Halvorson. His work has the polish and simplicity of someone like Chris Samnee but with the personality of Erica Henderson. He mixes cartoonish qualities with a really simple, yet carefully studied style which at times almost feel like an Archie book, but much more contemporary feel, especially with the way the characters are drawn and composed. (It may also be the high school setting as well of course). There are also some lush colours from Rebecca Nalty which gives everything this warm, rich hue to it that makes the whole thing feel quite vintage without being retro homage.
This sense of self awareness and confidence in what it is doing, is what makes Finger Guns work so well. In a lot of ways it has the same kind of knowing post-modern vibe that worked so well in Sex Criminals (or even Vault’s own Money Shot) – but without the X-rated elements. Both are painfully smart and self aware, but without ever over stepping the boundary into parody or self reference. Instead they both take an outlandish and frankly, ridiculous premise, and somehow make it work thanks to some really strong writing and visuals, but importantly, some sparkling dialogue. This makes the story fizz along and makes every page a delight, but also allows more serious moments to have the space they need in order to give them importance. That serious side is what will give the series longevity too, and prevents it from getting too far fetched and ridiculous.
Finger Guns is one of those books which, based on it’s initial premise (kids with magic fingers) shouldn’t work – but it somehow does. In the long run, it’s difficult to know how much momentum there is for a book about kids with magic powers in their fingers, however based on this first couple of issues it should be a really fun journey finding out.