One of these days people are going to run out of ideas for fictional schools with a “whacky” twist. We’ve done stories about schools for ninjas, wizards, superheroes. Once someone creates a piece of fiction about the crazy hi-jinx at a secret school for training the world’s best arm-chair repair men it’s safe to say we’ll have hit the saturation point. Though it will be interesting to see how Billy Baskins overcomes lord Reclimus and the Lazy Boy of Sorrows.
But anyway, “Five Weapons”, then.
“Five Weapons” is a new comic out by Image’s “Shadowline” imprint about (Drumroll) a secret, elite school for the children of assassins. Once enrolled children have to pick one of the school’s five weapons clubs and stick with it, because the best thing for a professional murderer is over-specialization apparently. Our hero is the son of the legendary assassin Shainline, not the most frightening name for an assassin, but they can’t all be named Baron Bloodstroke or Elijah Payne, after all. Upon arriving at the school, young Tyler seems hesitant to pick a club and spends most of the first issue dodging it behind landslides of exposition.
So basically the book is like Naruto meets Harry Potter meets “The Intimates”. Does anyone actually remember “The Intimates”?
Story wise, the first issue feels especially “First issue-y”, with the aforementioned mountains of expositional dialogue threatening to overwhelm the reader and leaving very little room for characterization beyond page after page of “That’s X!” “That’s Y!”. Most of the first issue is just things being explained, so there isn’t much to hook the reader in beyond the bare premise itself.
Add to that a couple of moments that stand out as either dumb, lazy or both. One of the main characters is the class president of the knife club, a young Asian girl. Think she’s named something original, interesting or even remotely new? Nope, she’s named Jade. She’s an Asian girl named Jade. Because that isn’t incredibly played out and cliche. Then there’s the scene where an entire schoolyard full of professional and in-training assassins mistake an exploded juice box for blood. Are we sure this school isn’t just where they send all the terrible, incompetent assassins so they don’t feel left out?
In terms of art, it’s competent but nothing overly special. Forms are represented cleanly and it’s perfectly easy to follow the action, and a few of the character designs are interesting, though it’s hard to look at the principal lady without seeing Amanda Donohoe from the cover of Lair of the White Worm. Back to the boring though, the panel layouts are the same dull tiered panels on every single page. It’s not like every book should go all JH Williams III, but can you at least put some effort into it beyond just stacked images?
While “Five Weapons” number one is by no stretch of the imagination “bad”, your imagination can stay in a nice comfortable shape by calling it “average”. Nothing about it is particularly impressive, and unless you find the concept or the surprise twist particularly interesting, it does little to inspire you to pick up the series regularly.