Pilot syndrome is a well-known scourge of media. How do you hook your audience on undeveloped characters, plot introductions with limited time for world-building and mastering a sense of tone that has not had a chance to evolve naturally? Force Six, The Annihilators finally gets a chance to take off with Season One: The Destruction of Redder Coltrane. Just as the case was with Episode 01, we are treated to action-driven stories with a conservative approach to plot exposition that keeps a sense of mystery about the series. It’s still wholly unclear how much will be divulged in time; however Season One demonstrates that the promises of the original issue are kept with a substantial sense of growth.
The first thing to note would be the team. None of the characters have much in the way of backstories, motivations or even fully-developed personalities. In many ways, they are aesthetic-driven and have similar attitudes supplemented by quirks that help them feel distinguishable from one another just enough to make the team feel like it’s more than a group of skilled killers. Jackie-Five steals the show while characters like Beta-One and Kojin-Two get to enjoy powerful moments that leave the reader fascinated and in need of a bit more of their personal touches. These might not be characters that you can have firm attachments to just yet, but they are more than enough to induce interest. While the characters’ consistent attitudes do well to establish tone, there are some odd cases of phrasing and awkward dialogues that don’t quite add up without a dedicated focus. The writing isn’t something a Harvard professor would pass, but it’s enough to get you through the story with a solid grasp on what’s occurred.
Visually, Drew Spence is stretching his talents much further than would have been expected after episode 01. While 3D modelling-based media are often plagued with the overly-sleek, barren backgrounds that plagued animated series like Beware the Batman, Spence finds a way to keep things visually rich without a need for highly-populated paneling. The variety of scenery, the use of color and the way atmosphere is approached in this comic are truly inventive. There is scarcely a more beautiful depiction of what can only be described as wastelands in any modern media. Mix this with the variety of character aesthetics, with a particular emphasis on stylized weapons and you’ve got some really gorgeous eye candy.
Overall, this comic surpasses expectation with dramatic improvements in the fields of panel-layout, lettering and characterization. While there is plenty of room to grow on the story-telling front, it’s hard not to be satisfied with a completed mission that encompassed sword-fights, high-tech gear, victories, casualties, stand-offs and a whole ton of shots fired. In the end, the vaguely villainous titular character sees his end and serves his purpose. Hopefully, Drew Spence has some long-game plans to prevent these seasons from becoming overly formulaic. There’s hardly anywhere to go but forward for the Annihilators.
Action, action and more action
Welcome variety for characters/weapons/landscapes
Greatly improved lettering
No real motivations to attach to