Chase Variant One Shot (Is All I Need) one-shot (Image Comics)
by Rich Johnston, Saverio Tenuta & Bagwell
I decided to pick up this comic book because I like Rich Johnston’s online musings about the comic-book industry and some of his past efforts have been amusing. I expected a comic that embraced satire, that spoofed the Kewl comics of the 1990s (many of which were published by the same company that published this comic, oddly enough). To my surprise, I didn’t find what I expected, but I did find an intelligently constructed story about hobbies and escapist fiction. This comic is made up of three shorter stories featuring the title heroine — a genetically engineered assassin — in battle with various threats, but connecting all three is a parallel story running under (literally) all of them, featuring two guys playing a collectible-card game. Now, incorporating a CCG into a comic-book story seems a little behind the times — such games peaked a decade or so ago — but I really enjoy the dual approach to the storytelling. Ultimately, I think Johnston’s point about such Kewl comics characters and stories is that they’re random and a bit pointless, but they can also serve as a fun diversion.
Two artists contribute line art to this book. Saverio Tenuta’s style is a more conventional pencil/ink approach, reminiscent of Todd (Spawn) McFarlane’s work. He captures the over-the-top intensity that serves to define characters such as Chase Variant. Bagwell’s painted (or at least it looks painted) art brings an even darker, slightly more realistic tone to bear, but the shift actually works in the context of the story. From start to finish, having jumped from one story to another, the title character becomes more and more aware of the illogical nature of what’s happening. Both artists bring consistency to the book by following Johnston’s structure closely. The white space along the bottom panel of each page (no doubt at Johnston’s direction) strings everything together nicely. 7/10