The latest instalment of this ‘Frostbyte Legacy’ universe (joining Impossible), writer Chris Sides and artist P.L. Woods bring us the high octane Gunrunner – a chase story about industrial espionage and hi-tech weapons which is speeding its way towards the end of its Kickstarter. But does it deserve to cross the finish line or should it be towed?
Publisher: Markosia Enterprises
Writer: Chris Sides
Artist: P. L. Woods (Art), Srdjan ‘Sibin’ Stoiljkovic (Colours), Ken Reynolds (Editor/Letterer), Matt Rooke (Cover Art)
Price: Available via Kickstarter
Gunrunner tells the story of Talitha Clarke, a former British soldier whose choice to put her girlfriend and mother behind her job as a weapons courier, or Gunrunner, becomes the wrong choice when she is recruited by Frostbyte Industries to transport a top secret, highly advanced and possibly extra-terrestrial weapon from an army barracks to a police training site. However, this ‘parcel’ doesn’t turn out to be as secret as was hoped when a team of thieves, led by the aggressive Hadaway, come after Tali to claim the package for their own employers, leading to a high speed and explosive chase along the Roads of England.
Chris Sides has created an enjoyable story with Gunrunner. With a simple plot which imbues a sense of the Transporter movies, Sides formulates a frantic, fas- paced and action-packed tale which didn’t slow down for a moment and is surprisingly more captivating than can we expected. It certainly helps in the compelling way that Sides depicts his protagonist as Tali comes across as a sympathetic and relatable character, being incredibly damaged in terms of her personal attributes (as shown in the first few pages), but also heroic and idealistic. In these latter respects, her personality reminded us of the Steven Seagal character from the Under Siege movies. Of course, the rest of the cast are not as fully fleshed out, with supporting cast like Chapman and Rachel coming across as nothing more than exposition sharers to give us context and Hadaway and his villainous crew feeling very one note. In fact, of all the characters, the mysterious Man in Blue (which I call him as I can’t find his actual name) is maybe the most intriguing, as he offers up the connection to a higher power that left me curious what else this story had left to tell.
As a result, given that this is part of a much larger narrative from Chris Sides’ ‘Frostbyte Legacy’ series, Gunrunner’s writing and the way its plot is designed allows it to work incredibly well as a stand alone story. While there are connections to the first Frostbyte book ‘Impossible’ you don’t have to have read it to enjoy this. In fact, the story feels tight, flows well and seems devoid of any padding, although its only issue is the opening action sequence (but this makes more sense in hindsight as I progressed through the story.
In regards to the art, P. L. Woods provides some solid work with his style nicely bringing together the action/chase scene and sci-fi elements and making them feel like they naturally belong. His style also has a slight roughness to it but it helps sell a kinetic vibe which works well in this high octane story. Meanwhile, ‘Sibin’ Stoiljkovic’s colours do initially come across as a little too loud for the story matter but this feeling is easily side-stepped as the book progressed, and his colours helped sell a sense of outlandishness, especially toward the end. Between the two of them, the art is fantastic as it goes from one fast moving panel to the next, although their best work in my eyes had to be Tali’s intro as Woods takes advantage of the slow pace to really focus on the finer details while Stoijkovic provides an overall warmer colour scheme to give them a sunny morning hue. Finally, Ken Reynolds letters feel on point throughout, especially with his sound effects which look like they perfectly match with the art.
Gunrunner is a fast paced and genuinely fun and enjoyable read from start to finish that reads and looks like an action movie placed inside a comic book. Gunrunner is an exciting and dynamic read that feels like a worthy and enjoyable addition to this exciting new universe.