13 Coins brings the supernatural world down to Earth in a very familiar good vs. evil setting. Is it good?
13 Coins #1 (Titan Comics)
In the opening sequence, writers Martin Brennan and Michael B. Jackson provide a brief history of the world of 13 Coins. God has cast out rebellious Angels and chained their leader, Semyaza, until the Day of Judgement. However, some of Semyaza’s followers escaped, fled to Earth, and are biding their time until the day the prophecy is fulfilled, where Evil will once again wage war “on the throne of God.” This is the gist of the narrative; but, some of it comes off rather clunky and does not flow very well from panel to panel. This is very evident when Brennan and Jackson are discussing the creation and impact of the 13 Coins.
Despite the clunky narration, artist Simon Bisley takes the imagery of the Sistine Chapel and ups the violence and gore quotient. The battle between the forces of God and Semyaza is chaotic as they collide in midair and in one full-page panel a soldier is cleaved in half. Colorist Ryan Brown lets the blood flow with a dark red color. The blood splatter flows across the page gushing out of the fallen soldier’s torso onto the breastplate and leggings of his slayer. However, the upper torso seems out of place and almost floating in the middle of the panel rather than actually having been connected to his legs.
After Brennan and Jackson establish the background, they move to introducing John Pozner, the protagonist. He is clearly haunted or has a mental disorder, but otherwise he is rather undeveloped. It is unclear who exactly he is and there is one sequence that seems altogether forced as he discusses showing up to his job on time. His boss continues to berate him over being a smart-ass, but he did not even make any smart-ass comments!
Speaking of forced dialogue, Brennan and Jackson also add a page introducing a character, Manuel, but then completely leave him alone. Makes you wonder whether the page was even supposed to be in the book because it appears to not relate to the meta-story or John Pozner whatsoever.
The last half of the book is where 13 Coins takes off. Brennan and Jackson get the plot churning when a murder investigation turns into an ambush and chase sequence. The characters have emotion, they experience loss and suffering, yet they continue on, dedicated to their mission. The action sequence also reveals a little more about the supernatural world of 13 Coins with some pretty fantastic abilities and reveals how poorly the forces of God are faring in the war on Earth.
Is It Good?
13 Coins starts off very rough with a choppy narrative and a weak main protagonist that offers no way to connect with the reader. The artwork is sufficiently violent and full of gore, a credit to Bisley and Brown. The second half of the book does a complete 180, driving the meta-story and introducing some strong, more relatable characters.