With an aesthetic vibe that owes much to the 1980s, Chariot #1 is a rough-hewn adventure makes some savvy statements about modern society without sacrificing any of the excitement. This book throws jabs at the military-industrial complex, the health care crisis, and income inequality, all while being really, really cool and heartfelt.
Jim is an ex-con whose son Ben is terminally ill with a kidney ailment. Neither Jim nor his ex-wife (who's now dating a cop) has health care coverage, so the care for their son is driving them to desperation. Jim's in debt to a loan shark as he works a hardscrabble job at a junkyard — the best gig he could get with a felony conviction in his past. He's been trying to make a living and support his son's health care, but he's running on empty as his one passion project is a hard-to-identify yet relentlessly sexy salvage car that he's been trying to return to life.
The visuals from Priscilla Petraites and Marco Lesko will evoke the clean crispness of a Patrick Nagel or a Jamie McKelvie, with neon-highlighted accents that would fit right in was this noticed in Vice City or the dreams of Michael Mann. Bryan Edward Hill's sparse, efficient script delivers on the action and the tension here.
What went wrong was very little, but it's noticeable. Ben's mother is never named in these pages — an exhausting Bechdel Test flub. Most of the characters here are not named, and their motivations are sometimes one-dimensional. There is a time shift from the cold war era to the modern-day that's a little rough of a transition.
Still, there is a distinctive hook here, and if you saw this on TV, this would be the first 20 minutes of an hour-long episode that would have you anxious for a return from the commercial break. For four bucks, this is just a little short on the steak to match all this fantastic, stylized sizzle. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.
By Bryan Edward Hill, Priscilla Petraites
The Chariot was a Cold War-era secret government project to provide its star agent with a weapon unlike any other in the form of a supercharged muscle car. It sank into the ocean decades ago, and the agent along with it. Now, a petty criminal looking to reform his life has stumbled upon the Chariot, and he's about to find out that the agent's consciousness is still controlling it in this synthwave thriller.