Released last month was this anthology from creator Howard Shum. His name might be familiar to some as an inker for various Marvel, DC and Dark Horse titles over the years as well as the writer of Image series such as Gun-Fu, and Gazillion. Here, he’s the writer of 8 short stories, all illustrated by different artists. That’s a good idea, especially as he’s chosen well (from all over the world), making sure every story is a visual delight.
Don’t be fooled by the kinetic, and charming art though, as it’s not an all-ages book, with its occasional blood letting and profanity.
My favourite tale is Water Lily with art by Antonella Dalena. It focuses on two young, attractive strangers on a plane. She, being the daughter of a wealthy man, gets kidnapped when they land, and he, being a former soldier, grabs his best buddy and sets out to rescue her, guns blazing. It’s a simple story, but the dialogue works well as does the intrigue in the closing pages. The twist from possible romance to tense actioner works well.
LoveQuest with art by Regis Donsimoni is the funnest, and funniest story within Fusillade. Set in a medieval world, bored Zaf wants to impress Sira by fighting village bully Raguur. He soon realises that reading a book on fighting just doesn’t cut it and undergoes training from Master To. He’s a slow learner, and To is most amused by his hapless efforts, but when three monsters tougher than Raguur show up, the real fight begins.
There’s also a gory Western tale, a tense action epic involving super powered cops and government experiments battling in L.A, opening and closing stories involving kid adventurers and more. All are easy to follow and are written well, with Shum showing great skill at creating life-like dialogue and likeable characters. Each story reveals a nice balance in humour and drama and with most of these, I’d like to see what happens next. That is one of the biggest problems though. There’s no “To Be Continued,” or intro from Shum stating that he’ll revisit these tales, and although some have more closure than others, hints from Shum about the future of Fusillade would’ve been nice, especially seeing that this could easily be someone’s first comic.
There is an obvious issue with the extra 25 non-story pages included too. Perhaps it made financial sense to bring the book up to 144 pages for printing purposes, but an explanation would’ve been nice, although I always enjoy seeing character sketches.
Half of the tales involve characters who are, or who dream of, having a career in Hollywood, and since Shum wrote and directed an indie film 5 years ago (The Secret World of Comic Book Artists), it makes sense that he’d have ties to the cinema world. It’d be nice to at least have an introduction as to why there’s 15 pages of interviews with actors Krysten Ritter, and T.J Miller and cinematographer Larry Fong though. They are very interesting reads, particularly the latter 2, but come from nowhere as the interviewees had nothing to do with the tales in the preceding pages, as far as I can tell. Unfortunately the issue of grammar/ spelling mistakes (I counted at least 6) that show up in some of the story’s text also continue in the chats. Yes, I’m being nitpicky, but it is noticeable.
Obviously this is a passion project for Shum, and it is something that could easily be given to anyone new or old to comics, who wants pretty pictures with engaging, stories with equal parts action and character, and the occasional laugh. Seeing as there’s a “1″ printed on the spine, I’d only hope that the presentation issues could be resolved before volume 2.
You can check out 3 preview pages from each of the 8 stories within Fusillade right here.