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39 Minutes [Top Cow Productions] Review

By
Posted on July 30, 2013 AT 06:12pm

The winner of the “Pilot Season” contest from Top Cow in 2010, the creative team on 39 Minutes finally make their arrival into the comic book landscape. With a plot full of government cover-ups, war and death, Pilot Season winner William Harms and his creative team bring forth the story of former soldiers who, after being wronged by the government they’ve served, take a bit of their own form of repayment for their service.

This is a very violent, aggressive title that shows both the fight and the bureaucracy of war. When several special ops soldiers are wronged by their own government, the group are faced with a disturbing decision: sign a paper that will completely change the situation that happened, which they did out of valor, or go to jail for crimes against their country. When the vote swings towards honor, the men are jailed, and that is where the story really begins. The wronged soldiers escape their cells and go on a planned series of heists, creating large body counts along the way, bringing forth the cruelty of war and the consequences for all actions, both direct and indirect.

William Harms is both the creator and the writer of this series, and his passion for this project shines through on every page. His words have an intensity that is both haunting and violent, and the entire premise reads like a twisted tale of loss and vengeance. As the plot jumps back and forth through the present and the past, each character gets their moment to shine, and for some, their moments to fail. The writing itself is solid, though some of the content tends to focus a bit less on the reasons for what the characters do and more on the actual actions they take.However, the read is very focused and well put together, showing the writing skills of Harms off in all the right ways.

The story itself, however, is a bit lacking, leaving room for interpretation in the motives of the characters. It presents itself as both a heist and a war tale, showing off both the cruelty of emotional trauma and the intensity of physical harm. The characterization of each solider in the group is there, with many of them giving heartfelt reasons for why they are doing the things that they do. Despite these reasons, most feel either like a re-hash of old tropes, with their reasons lacking real substance.

The first chapter of the story is a clear-cut hit, full of thrills and secrets, proving why it deserved to be the winner of Pilot Season. The last three chapters, however, wrap up the story in a lackluster form, wrapping up the story in a cacophony of violence that seems to not have much of a real resolution. Despite some of those setbacks, however, the story itself is a very fun ride, full of action and suspense that many readers will really enjoy, especially those who are interested in military-related content.

The art team of Jeremy Lando, Jay Lesiten, Brian Buccellato and Linda Sejic all work together to make this a very good looking title. The color work from Buccellato and Sejic are both very different, making for an interesting juxtaposition of styles between the Pilot Season winning Chapter One and the rest of the book. This is not to say that either style is better or worse. Both lend themselves well to the book, with Sejic’s coloring style of Lando’s work adding a realistic depth, with Buccellato’s looking more like a traditional comic. Both look great on the page, and add some grit and intensity to the already intense content of Harms’ creation.

Summary: A heist story wrapped around one of government betrayal, 39 Minutes is a thrilling romp through the eyes of those who have been wronged by the country they served. While there are some definite drawbacks to the way the characters are portrayed and in portions of the story itself, those do not outweigh the amount of intensity and fun that can be had while reading the book. The artwork is stellar, and while the two different colorists make for an surprising change of pace, both styles work incredibly well. A violent heist thriller, 39 Minutes will leave readers wanting more, but glad they read this winning product.
Pros:Great artwork, thrilling plot.
Cons: Lack of emotional connection with character motives.

Grade: B

Russ Pirozek, known as "Noobcrawler" to some, is a gamer and comic book fan who sometimes gets around to writing for DigitalNoob.com. He's also awesome. If someone looked up "awesome" in the dictionary, his picture wouldn't be there, but that's because he's too busy being awesome to pose for a photo.


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