With the recent release of SFSX from Image, one would think we’re in a time where sex-positive/centric comics have hit a new boom. Well, that seems to be working for Image but not Vault, because this comic, for all its raunchiness, is exceedingly bland.
You know a comic is good when it needs two pages of preamble text to tell you about its world. Why bother weaving set-up into the comic itself? To make a long story long: in the not too distant future, we earthlings have discovered alien life, but they see what a dumpster fire we are, so they won’t let us travel. A bunch of US scientists, frustrated by a lack of funding from a fundamentalist government (hint, hint) decide to traverse the universe and make inter-species porn for money and views because the porn-watching public have become desensitized and want more extremity.
We open with alien porn being filmed, which is supposed to be oh-so shocking and make up for any lack of artistry in the writing. We flashback to how these scientists came up with the idea at the insistence of a whining protagonists. Then we fast forward to find out—oh no! The aliens aren’t friendly and want to kill the heroes in a gladiator arena!
Geez, where to start? Well, the plot is a shambolic mess. It has very ambitious set-up, but it’s a house of cards. Beyond that, the actual storytelling is average at best.
The characters are stereotypes. This might be OK if they were funny…but they’re not. One is dumb and strong. One is sassy. One is droll. One is weird. That’s about it.
Desperately, the plot tries to take stabs at commentary. For instance, it mentions that the US government is resistant to science, so funding has been cut. That’s a real thing that’s happening now, especially in regard to climate science being denied. Does Moneyshot interrogate why or how the government is acting? Nope. Tim Seeley and Sarah Beattie are content to merely mention fundamentalist government as a throwaway line.
How about the main characters and by proxy, the writers, complaining how the public has become so desensitized by porn, things have to be more and more extreme? Psychologically, that’s true. The public easily gets bored and requires more. But there are complexities. Like any media, the public will want more as an artform progresses, whether that be film, music, or…porn.
So to complain about the public in a disdainful way comes across as oddly self-defeating. If you’re going to have a sex-positive comic, why spend most of your time bemoaning how dumb the watching audience is? When our hero trolls online porn and gets her idea, all the viewers have ridiculous parody names like YOLOSWAG and EDGELORD_OF_EDGING.
Again, there are complexities. There’s plenty you can criticize about the porn industry, especially when it becomes abusive. But does this series explore any of that? Of course not. Again, just another idea tossed to the wind.
A bit nitpicky, but this comic treats the aliens in question as savages, like indigenous stand-ins you’d find in John Carter—savages who haven’t evolved beyond making stick spears and fighting in gladiator arenas, which they force our heroes to participate in. But aren’t these aliens supposed to look down on us awful humans and push us away? Wouldn’t they be more civilized, not less?
Unfortunately, the art from Rebekah Isaacs is commendable. I say unfortunately, because I feel bad that she’s stranded with these scripts. The art has a breezy, cartoony quality with a sharp touch for details. Clothes and hair have believable textures and faces are expressive without being outlandish. Very polished, especially with the shining color work from Kurt Michael Russell.