Now, reviewing Scam #1 by the highly talented writer/artist Joe Mulvey could be seen as something of a conflict of interests. After all, this is the first Diamond-distributed release from ComixTribe, publisher of my comic The Standard and populated by people I consider to be friends. It would be easy and indeed expected of me to just say, “THIS COMIC’S GREAT, GO BUY IT NOW!” Only it’s not so easy to pitch a comic you don’t believe in. I’ve said it before, but when I was at New York Comic Con last year trying to shill all the products at the ComixTribe table in addition to my own, my job was made much easier by the fact that the quality all-round was so high I could be honest in my enthusiasm for what we had to offer. And so I’m not just going to tell you that this comic’s great, I’ll tell you how it’s great. I’ll not just tell you to go buy it now, I’ll tell you why you should go and buy it now.
The first thing about Scam #1 that will hit you is the incredible artwork. Aided by the bold, bright colour pallette of Andrew Crossley and Jules Rivera, Mulvey’s slick, clear visuals are a delight to look at. He shows early on, and then throughout the issue, that he can deftly handle an elaborate action sequence, pacing everything out just right and giving us a clear idea of what’s going on. I also really like Mulvey’s character designs. Yes, there are a couple of small instances of characters looking similar, but in general, I think his expressive faces are fantastic, and I love his distinctive style of big, chunky bodies. The whole book just looks gorgeous from cover to cover, with artwork that is of competitive quality to the average Marvel/DC/Image book on the shelves.
The art might make a resounding first impression, but Mulvey’s writing is strong too. With 40 pages of content in this opening issue, you get a lot of bang for your buck, and Mulvey really gets time to gradually introduce this world, immersing us in the plots and double-deals of this gang of crooks. But it’s also a very quick read, given the relentless pace this first chapter maintains. Expect no info dumps here. There are hints that each of these criminals have unique powers, and glimpses of those powers in action, but no outright “This is this person’s power and here’s how they got it” moment. Similarly, we are introduced to several different factions lined up against our heroes, each with their own shady agendas, with no concrete idea of who is affiliated with who. As readers, we’re not being spoonfed, instead being thrown in amidst the action and being left to catch up and connect the dots ourselves. It’s an approach to storytelling I admire.
The plot of Scam revolves around a group of thieves who are betrayed by one of their own and left for dead. Two years later, the group reunite to plot an elaborate revenge on the traitor, who has now gone “legit” and runs a large casino in Las Vegas. It is with this villain of the piece that Joe really gets to cut loose, crafting a character that is truly vile, who one issue in I already can’t wait to see get a grand comeuppance. Of course, there are complications, with our ragtag band of conmen left dealing with various pursuers as well as their primary target, and with numerous strands left tantalisingly (cliff)hanging to be picked up next issue.
I could tell you to pick up Scam #1 because by doing so, you’ll be supporting the ComixTribe family, and helping our creator-owned network grow. I could tell you to pick up Scam #1 because Joe Mulvey is one of the most passionate-about-comics people I know, and that passion just burns off the pages of this book. And yes, both of those are true. But really, you should pick up Scam #1 because it’s a bloody great comic. Looking gorgeous and just dripping cool, Scam is a comic that out-Supercrookses Supercrooks, and stands as one of the best new releases of the month by any measure. Seek this book out. And if your shop didn’t order it in, see that they amend that grievous error. A highly enjoyable debut from a hugely impressive comics talent in Joe Mulvey.
Scam #1 is on sale in many quality comic shops worldwide. If it’s not in your store, ask your retailer about stocking it!