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Chase Variant #1 [Review]

One Shot (Is All I Need)

By: Rich Johnston, Saverio Tenuta, and Bagwell
Variant cover by: Rob Liefeld
Published by: Image Comics

I tend to enjoy metatextual comics such as this. On the one hand, they’re fun, getting both a story and a commentary if one looks at multiple layers. At the same time, the drawback is that sometimes seeing those layers from the get-go can take one out of the story entirely.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Chase Variant, except that from the cover, it appears to be just another “bad girl” book, much as Image was known for in its earlier days. And the story opens up with a bang (two of ’em, actually), and immediately reveals its hook: the “main” story is that of a bioengineered government agent named (of course) Chase Variant. She has four arms, gun in each hand, and is a much revered, efficient assassin. She’s also, actually, a 1:1000 chase card in a collectible card game, which is being played out. 3/4 each page is the main story–the in-game story, if you will, of Chase as she knows herself. The other quarter-page looks at the cards in the “real world” as the game is being played.

The story is pretty basic, without much depth or character development. While that would be very, very bad for the debut issue of a new series, this is a one-off…a one-shot, and so lack of depth is much more forgivable. Where this excels is at drawing on the thoughts I’d imagine any gamer has had in playing a game, of trying to craft a visualization or story around the playing of cards which describe basic characters or actions. There are rules and structures to such games, perhaps even an overall story that informs the specific cards that can be used. But the story itself, each game in which the cards interact uniquely really plays out in the imaginations of the players, unlike a comic, movie, or video game.

The visuals are not bad. I’m unfamiliar with the artists offhand, so really don’t have anything prior to compare this work to. In and of itself, the art on this issue does a good job of depicting what’s going on; capturing that dark and gritty feel that the character’s world ought to have, were this an ongoing story. Other than the occasional gratuitous visual shot and the character’s get-up (which is actually commented on within the story), no real complaint.

This is a fairly unique one-shot. In some ways, it could be seen as a sort of adult Yu-Gi-Oh, in that the cardplay informs the story. At the same time, it seems like a commentary on such card games and the presence of rare chase cards, as well as the evolution of ways of playing any given game, and the cards that eventually get introduced into long-running games.

If you’re looking for something a bit different and without continuity–past/present/future–to deal with, this is a good issue for that. Certainly a worthwhile issue to keep an eye out for.

Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10
Overall: 7/10

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