13Coins Issues 1 & 2 – Review

It’s been years since I first heard about 13Coins. Back then, it was a sort abstract idea being mooted by Berserker, an indie printhouse with a Bisley connection and some under-rated talent in-house. Since then the business model has changed in favour of a digital release and some new talent’s been drafted in to supplement the ascendant colourist Ryan Brown (Tower Chronicles) and Biz’s pencils. There’s Kan Muftic (Batman Arkham games, Bioshock 2, Legendary Entertainment’s upcoming Godzilla movie) on character painting duties and Martin Brennan and Michael B. Jackson on writing and the whole thing’s under the auspices of an outfit called Corinthian…

So it was with some interest I received my review copies of 13Coins issues 1&2; Had it been on the shelf too long? Had it been put through the mill by Corinthian and spewed out as yet another hero-by-numbers weekly? Thankfully not…

Although it bears some similarity to recent Bisley projects like Legendary’s The Tower Chronicles (is that a whiff of Four Horsemen in there too?) 13C is certainly strong enough to stand on its’ own two feet. The maguffin’s original, it’s as sweary as all hell and the characters aren’t nicked straight out of The Prophecy. If you like Heaven vs. Hell stories then you really should enjoy this; all the familiar tropes are there: A Reluctant Hero who was Born To Save The World but Could Tip the Balance Either Way, a Tough as Nails Sexy Female who Takes Absolutely No Shit, a Grizzled Older Guy Who’s Seen It All and Isn’t Sure About The Kid… But these are introduced and used in such a way as to feel familiar without being stale: These character types are oft-used for a reason – because they work, and they’re identifiable. Even if you’re not a fan of HvH stories, there’s plenty to enjoy here. There’s the sex and violence, for starters, and the artwork – well, the artwork…

Bisley’s pencils (available free in the download,) are evidently strong and his pacing and layouts remain excellent; It’s Ryan Brown’s digital colouring that really shines here. Acting as inker and colourist, he’s using his recognisable subdued palette to great effect, supplementing it with punches of ochre and blood red as needed. I love watching the process of creating comics so it’s an extra treat to see how Brown interprets Bisley’s pencilwork, tightening it up where necessary and adding his own flavour to the thing.

Although it’s being released episodically, there’s a real feel here that each issue hasn’t been written with that in mind. There’s no encapsulation or sense of closure at the end of either issue I’ve seen, leading me to think that the larger arc is what’s important here. As a fan of large-scale storytelling this is a nice admission that a reader’s attention span isn’t worth patronizing as much as the Big Two would perhaps like to think. I sincerely hope that there’s story here for the long haul.

Here’s the quote for Corinthian to lift for publicity:

13Coins has the potential to be a proper epic motherfucker, gathering pace as it goes. The wait was worth it.

It’s worth noting that Corinthian are using their Deep Paper platform to develop this, something I didn’t get to appreciate fully as I don’t own an iDevice and therefore stuck myself with the PDF review copy. Consequently I can only comment on what I’ve seen, and that’s a satisfying, well drawn, well written piece of work from artists rapidly approaching the top of their game. I wholeheartedly recommend getting your hands on the first two copies in their intended form (the first one’s free – what the hell are you waiting for?!) and seeing for yourself what we’ve been waiting for all this time.

13 Coins is available from the AppStore and I’m giving it 10 Coins out of 13.

The Official Fanpage for the appreciation of the amazing artwork of Simon 'Biz' Bisley