Review – S.H.O.O.T. First #2

Posted: November 19, 2013 by Sam in Comics, Review
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Cover 2This was previously posted at Word of the Nerd on November 13th.

Last time on S.H.O.O.T. First: The Secular Humanist Occult Obliteration Task Force (S.H.O.O.T.) recruited a new member, a former Muslim calling himself Infidel, after an attack on an Afghani mosque by a jinn. Only it wasn’t really a jinn, but an Outside Actor (OA), a creature that feeds on the faith and belief of humans. S.H.O.O.T., however, operates on a strict, “no belief” policy, which allows them to use weapons powered by disbelief, doubt, and anger. By the end of the first issue, Infidel secured his place on the team, an Angelic conspiracy was revealed, and we learned that the field leader of S.H.O.O.T., Mrs. Brookstone’s, son Ray is half OA.

The team’s next mission takes them to Egypt, specifically the pyramids at Giza where a sect of Orthodox Jews have taken hostages in the name of the Angel of the Lord, declaring to the media that they’ll only release the hostages when the agents of S.H.O.O.T. are brought to them without their weapons. Complying with their demands the team give exchange themselves for the hostages, but find that the terrorists are the least of their problems. Calling upon the power of God and the angels, the Jewish acolytes summon the “protector of their people”, which turns out to be a giant golem made up of the Great Pyramid. Believing the Outside Actor to be operating the golem from the inside, Mrs. Brookstone hitches a ride on Robot to infiltrate and destroy the enemy within. Keeping the golem busy, Infidel tells Bett to shoot for the Aleph, the first letting of the Hebrew alphabet, as a means of stopping the power of the creature. Bett quickly points out that by believing the golem is real enough to have powers to stop, Infidel has disarmed himself, Pyramid Golemhis guns no longer working in response to his sudden belief. It seems that Infidel’s crisis of faith is now a crisis of doubt.

Justin Aclin brings a strong second issue that delivers as much action and humor as it does ruminations on the difficulties of remaining doubtful while being confronted with everything you doubt to be true. The few months Infidel has been on the team haven’t necessarily knocked all of the belief out of him. In fact, facing a golem, a symbol of the Jewish faith, does more to create doubt in his new found Atheism. The image of Infidel (after being tossed by the golem) landing amongst the faithful, praying, is powerful considering Infidel’s later confession that he feels lost and empty, which he shares with Bett after she tosses a sandwich at his head. But Bett isn’t unsympathetic to his plight. She knows loss as well, the victim of “fairies” who led her astray in 1881 only for her to show up in the present day with no memory of the time she was gone. Displaced from her home and family, she understands loss very well. It’s a lovely moment between the two, and possibly the start of a love triangle as well. Infidel’s crisis of doubt is juxtaposed by Mrs. Brookstone’s need to doubt in order to save her son. Having a child who’s half Devil, and possibly an instrument of the Apocalypse, is a constant reminder that she’s connected to the very creatures she’s trying to destroy. Doubt is the only weapon she truly has, the only thing she can wield to keep her son safe.

The artwork of Nicolás Selma just gets better here as well. The splash page of Mrs. Brookstone standing over the dead body of her son’s father, now in his demonic form, just makes her more badass and Selma has a way of making Aclin’s comedy pop. Particular favorites are Bett’s needlepoint message to Byron, “Smile! There’s no God” and Byron’s illustrated gun settings. But, far and away, the pyramid golem is the highlight of the issue. It’s impressive in its imaginative design as well as the sheer awesomeness of the creature, making it a formidable opponent for the team. I would absolutely buy that as an action figure.

Final Thoughts: I can’t wait for the next Outside Actor! What creature of religion will Aclin and Selma re-imagine next?

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