Review: The Mission #1

Published on March 1st, 2011

In my last review I mentioned how Image Comics usually puts out a good product. I’m not sure I can say that about The Mission.

themission1The first issue begins in Chicago with our protagonist, Paul Haskell, at his doctor receiving his annual physical. Enter the mysterious, old soothsayer named Gabriel (who prefers to be called Gabe) who confronts Paul in the dark parking structure of the doctor’s office. Gabe tells Haskell that he’s been chosen for a mission and he plays a part in the war between good and evil. Paul dismisses the notion, but not before Gabriel hands Paul an envelope and tells him that he has to kill some guy named Neal Corman within forty-eight hours.

Paul gets home and relays the day’s events to his wife, glossing over the Paul-Gabe conversation which both Mr. and Mrs. Haskell brush off as some weird creep. What I assume is supposed to be the next day during what I assume is Paul’s lunch, Gabriel pops from nowhere and tells Paul again that he’s got a job to do. During their conversation, Paul receives a phone call from his doctor. The doc informs Paul that there were some possible malignancies in the blood tests from the recent physical Paul took. In other words, Paul probably has cancer. Paul realizes that Gabriel is behind all these shenanigans and the gist of the deal is that if Paul doesn’t do what Gabe says that Paul is gonna die. That night Paul has some nightmare (that came from nowhere, really) and it’s obviously the clincher that makes him go through with “the mission”.

The next day consists of Paul following Neal around. We see Neal spending the day with his daughter. He picks her up from school, takes her for ice cream, and then to the park. Paul’s not sure how or why Neal deserves to be killed. Neal even goes to church. We see Gabriel confront Paul one more time outside a building (which later turns out to be a courthouse) and drop a knife concealed inside a newspaper at Paul’s feet. Gabe gives a few last words of advice to Haskell: “Don’t fuck this up. Your life depends on it.” In the public restroom of the building, Paul is about to make his move to kill Neal, but is unable to cowboy-the-fuck-up and pukes in a nearby stall. Neal exits the bathroom and Paul soon follows, ditching the knife in a trashcan. From what I guess is Paul’s curiosity, he follows Neal down a hall into a room for Family Court hearings. Just as the judge is about to rule on Neal’s case, Neal pulls out a gun, shoots the judge, the opposing attorney, and the bailiff. Paul stands at the back of the courtroom shocked. End of issue one.

A debut issue is supposed to draw you in and make the reader want to find out what happens next. I simply found myself not caring about any of the characters or what happens down the line in the story. A comic book is arguably a visual medium, and I understand that. I also appreciate storytelling that doesn’t necessarily have to rely on dialogue to move a plot along. However, as I kept reading and Haskell was just showing how uncomfortable he was with the task at hand, I was thinking, “Okaaaaayyyy… I get it… Nothing’s happening… Aaaaanddd I don’t care.” There is far too much assuming asked of the reader and too many times I felt that I was supposed to just go along with what was happening. Much of the script felt cookie-cutter and heavy-handed from stories in the past.

Sam Taylor