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Review Group - Bullet to the Head #1

Written by John Martin on Tuesday, June 29 2010 and posted in Reviews

thefourthman had the pick for new comics shipping June 23rd and he selected Bullet to the Head #1 by MATZ and Colin Wilson.

The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse’s News Stand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate.

You know what sends off warning signs? When a comic lists a bunch of quotes proclaiming the genius of a different comic on it's back cover. So everyone agrees that MATZ's The Killer is great comics, does that translate to MATZ's Bullet to the Head?

0623-bullettothehead_cover.jpgReview by BlueStreak

This was an…interesting comic. First and foremost, I didn’t know a thing about this book before I read it. Didn’t read the solicits, didn’t know the writer, didn’t know the artist. All I knew was that it involved bullets and heads. And not necessarily in that order.

So, we have here a story of two assassins and the fallout that comes from their latest kill. A senator is dead and the police want to know why. It’s a simple story and a simple introduction all things considered and that’s not a bad thing. Matz does a great job of establishing the grittiness of his crime story by not lingering on any one scene. However, Matz’s writing has its flaws. Nothing stands out about his characters and too often do the speech bubbles clutter his scenes. While I enjoyed the grittiness, I found myself uncaptivated by the story itself.

Colin Wilson’s art compliments the story. His pencils are rough and unpolished, capturing the darkness of the plot. He also does a good job of making the crime itself seem…almost mundane. Many of his frames lack a focus point, giving the comic the feel of a Dirty Harry movie. However, for all of Wilson’s strengths as a penciller, he sucks as a letterer. Speech bubbles are in poor locations and are needlessly big and there’s the occasional typo.

This comic is like a diamond in the rough. There’s plenty to like about it, especially if you’re a fan of crime books. While it could benefit from better production quality, I feel like it would almost take away from the grittiness of the book. Good show.

Story: 6.5
Art: 7.5
Overall: 7

Review by Victorian Squid

Well, I made it about a half a dozen pages into this. The first few pages read exactly like a bad deleted scene from Pulp Fiction. Before I got halfway through the book, the hitmen had shot 2 dogs in two different scenes and I threw the book away. I'm sorry, I don't expect any of you to understand, it's a personal thing with me, I am sick of that being used in comics these days. Having said that, I give the book a zero.


Review by Eli Katz

French crime movies are some of the best in the genre. But they tend to move at a much slower pace than their American counterparts. My favorite French crime film, LE SAMOURAI, has a ten- to fifteen-minute opening sequence where the main character carries out a series of mundane tasks without saying a word. These opening scenes have no music, no dramatic camera angles, no sense of lurking danger. At one point, a car is stolen. But it is done in an unusually slow and methodical way, as if theft were no different than a tedious desk job. After these fifteen minutes of silent buildup, however, the movie quickly turns into a tense game of cat and mouse, where the police are often as clever and deceptive as the brilliant murderer they pursue.

BULLET TO THE HEAD #1 -- a newly translated version of DU PLOMB DANS LA TETE by acclaimed crime writer Matz -- follows this French tradition of the slow intro. Unfortunately, the pace is so slow in this book that it borders on complete pointlessness.

Most of this opening issue is dedicated to two hitmen, Louis and Jimmy, as they prepare to gun down a senator. We gather from their conversation that they have known each other for a long time. We also gather that they enjoy each other's company, because they talk nonstop about everything from European fashion to the pros and cons of therapy. In fact, they talk so much that they barely stop gabbing while they kill the fat old senator and his underage lover.

Their conversation is not meant to move the plot forward. Certainly, we don't learn who ordered the hit or why the senator was targeted. Instead, what it's meant to do is to show us how cavalier these killers are and to develop a deadly cool atmosphere. I'm not sure whether it's bad translating or just bad source material, but most of this conversation reads like a crappy parody of PULP FICTION. And when I say crappy, I mean "Oh my God I can't believe an editor allowed this to go to press" crappy. If a book is going to feature a fifteen-page conversation, it better have sharp dialogue and some witty observations. But there isn't one line in all these pages worth quoting. Most of what's said is just boring and silly and not very realistic. Who knows what hitmen tell each other when they hang out in real life, but I seriously doubt they talk about going to a shrink.

The second half of the book focuses on the detectives who investigate the senator's murder. And somehow, this part manages to be even worse than the first half of the book. Again, I'm not sure if it's bad translating or bad source material, but the last pages of BULLET read like a sleazy parody of LAW & ORDER. For example, as one cop examines the crime scene, he says, "If we find a fingerprint within a hundred yard radius, I swear I'll bang the girl's dead body at the morgue." Like the rest of the book, this line screams, "I'm trying so hard to be gritty, it's embarrassing."

I've read much praise for Matz as a writer. But based on this book, I don't understand where all this praise is coming from. Have these fans not read CRIMINAL, SCALPED, or STUMPTOWN? Because these crime comics are exceptional and in a league so far above BULLET IN THE HEAD that I feel bad mentioning them in the same paragraph as this derivative work.

The only good thing I have to say about BULLET is the art. Colin Wilson is not a flashy artist, but he's a strong storyteller. He draws the characters consistently and places them in panels with richly detailed backgrounds. He creates, in other words, real looking people in a real looking world. Too bad the story that he illustrates isn’t worth his time or talent.

I started this review by mentioning how wonderful and smart French crime movies are. Do yourself a favor and, instead of spending four bucks on BULLET TO THE HEAD, use that money to rent a French noir film. I've mentioned LE SAMOURAI already. Other great ones are RIFIFI, LES DIABOLIQUES, TOUCHEZ PAS AU GRISBI, and TELL NO ONE.

ART: 7

Review by John Snow

While low expectations after the previous reviews probably had something to do with it, I didn't think this was a horrible comic. The Pulp Fiction fanwank was tedious, but it was successful if the intent was to make me utterly dislike the criminals. Between shoe conversation and the dog shootings, there's not a lot to like about these guys. The police/fbi/political angles of the the book are just barely touched upon so I think with Matz's track record there's a good chance the story could be salvaged from this just okay first issue.

This is just the second comic I've come across with Colin Wilson art even though he's been working in the industry for over 30 years (mostly on UK books if memory serves, I could double check that buy why bother when I can just throw random claims out there Wink), but I like his stuff quite a bit. There's just the slightest hint of Chaykin influence in the character designs.

Story: 5
Art: 8
Overall: 6.5

That gives Bullet to the Head #1 a group score of 4.50. Yeah, so this obviously wasn't the easiest book to find.

For Punchy shockingly advocating animal abuse and a bit of Doctor Who torrent/streaming talk, join us in this week's thread found in the News Stand forum where you are invited to post your own review!
Comment or post your own review!

fieldy snuts has the pick for next week and he has selected Deadpool: Wade Wilson's War #2 published by Marvel Comics. Look for the new thread after it becomes available Wednesday morning.

0630-deadpoolwww_cover.jpgDeadpool: Wade Wilson's War #2


The true origin from Deadpool’s very talkative and crazy mouth continues to spill out, shedding new and bizarre turns. Did the clandestine military experiment that aimed to turn ordinary soldiers into super heroes do more than just that? Was Wilson a brave super-soldier fighting America’s secret wars, or just some pissed-off hick looking for a little payback? Or both? To Deadpool, the truth’s a funny thing… Parental Advisory …$3.99


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