Smoke & Guns
by Kirsten Baldock & Fábio Moon
In the world of Smoke & Guns, gangs of violent cigarette girls have divided up the city. But when Scarlett, our protagonist, tries to expand into other zones, she ignites a full-scale gang war.
Styled after a violent Hollywood thriller a la Robert Rodriguez, Smoke & Guns is a breakneck thrill-ride, where the characters (and the readers!) barely have time to ctach their breath in between action set-pieces. Its over-the-top, balls-to-the-wall pacing maintains an impressive intensity over the course of 80+ pages, and when it finishes, well, you'll feel like you need a cigarette too.
This is Kirsten Baldock's first graphic novel, and it's very entertaining for what it accomplishes. Using cigarette girls to tell the story is a stroke of genius--we know right from the outset that things are going to get crazy/insane. This would not have worked so well with regular gangs or any of the standard action tropes, and it does give Moon a chance to draw a bunch of girls running around in short skirts and high heels. The story could have stood to take a few more moments of downtime to let us connect more with the charcters though, as at the end the characters are still a mystery to us.
I've been in love with Fábio Moon's art ever since I saw it in Rock 'n' Roll last year. Here he manages to keep up with the breaknext pace of the script, pulling in influences from Frank Miller and Paul Pope to give us a visually compelling thrill-ride. He puts his characters in an environment that feels like a time-lost decaying city (much like the tv show EZ Streets, which I'm pretty sure no one else but me even remembers...) There's an impressive and appropriate use of blacks, and glorious sound effects. It's not perfect--sometimes the art appears a bit rushed--but it's overall very impressive.
Smoke & Guns certainly isn't a deep story, and it's not going to change comics or anything, but it's certainly a heck of a lot of action-packed fun.
Rating 3.5 (of 5)