Mankind fighting supernatural forces -- it's a concept we've seen countless times before and they all have a little twist here or there which makes them unique. Dark Horse's latest series has a similar concept, but writer Justin Aclin has filled it with more than enough to make it come off as unique instead of too familiar. This time around, a group called The Secular Humanist Occult Obliteration Taskforce (S.H.O.O.T.) has emerged to battle all kinds of mystical beings which feed off of humanity's faith. What makes this particularly interesting is their weapons are based on their lack of faith. So it's like a Green Power Ring, but instead of being driven by willpower, it's driven by... well, not believing in a greater power. It sounds cheesy, but in their world, it surprisingly logical.
It's certainly a bit of a wacky concept at times, yet Aclin is able to share all of the details in an organic fashion. Instead of people randomly blurting out facts as situations occur, a new character is brought into the fold early on and he's every bit as confused as I was during the first action sequence. This allows Aclin to reveal anything and everything about this world without making it feel forced.
Nicolas Daniel Selma (artist) and Marlac (colorist) provide a more animated and somewhat cartoonish look for the book. There weren't any panels which left me speechless or anything along those lines, but it's consistent with its level of detail and the coloring is solid. If this concept takes off, I could absolutely see this look translating to an animated series.
Somewhat unrelated but I simply have to add: the pistols totally remind me of the classic super soakers.
Seeing as this is an all-new and pretty out there universe, there's a lot of exposition to read during the second half of the book. Seeing as we're not fed the information until then, it left me asking a whole lot of questions when we were hit with an extensive action scene early on. A lot of different titles and technology were presented and it left me feeling in the dark and trying to solve these things on my own. The eventual reason for telling us what's what and who's who makes total sense, but you can't help but notice is a lot of exposition being tossed our way. Also, it has a cliffhanger that'll definitely function better in a trade because, as of right now, it's comes off as totally out of left field.
I do enjoy Nicolas Daniel Selma's art, but the action sequence left the characters feeling rigid. I can't help but feel like the big action sequence could have been way more enthralling if there was a better sense of energy behind all of it.
Lastly, because this premiere issue focuses on establishing the world, not much happens to make the characters feel especially unique. Sure, there's the tech dude, the aggressive guy, the strong leader, so on and so on, but right now it's more focused on presenting its premise instead of developing the characters (Infidel aside, that is).
S.H.O.O.T. FIRST isn't off to a bad start and it's sporting a ton of potential. It's great the creative team presented a self-aware introductory issue, making a key character react to the premise the same way quite a few of us would. Now that most of the basics are now out of the way, hopefully it'll give the characters room to grow and dive into the way bigger mystery surrounding this plot.
It's a serviceable first issue, it's just a matter of whether you're looking for something new which deals with using technology to battle the supernatural. I imagine some of you who are particularly religious won't be too fond of the concept (though to be fair, it's unclear whether a deity does indeed exist at the moment), but for everyone else, I'd say give it a shot if the concept piques your curiosity.