Book 1: Massacre at the Grand Intercontinental duPré
by ML Snook & Katie DeGelder
A Review by Christoph Staffl
In November 2013 the first four pages of Opportunities were released. Now, nearly four years later, the first book is finished (consisting of approximately twelve issues) and the second book just started a few weeks ago. As far as I can tell, they are releasing new pages regularly, which is remarkable. So far, I have read the first couple of issues, and it is an intriguing story put into a sci-fi setting.
I’ll let the creators tell you what Opportunities is about:
“…it covers a five day period during which a team of assassins infiltrate a hotel and dramatically assassinate a team of bankers who are in town to finalize a business deal with a visiting extraterrestrial corporation.”
The story begins with a news cast. The anchorwoman tells us about a terrorist attack by a man named Jack “The Holiday Hitman” Frost. She presents a lot of context, and it seems like Jack is quite busy making a name for himself. But the most interesting part of these first four pages is the ticker on the bottom of the screen. Several news items tell a lot of the world we are about to visit. What is going on at the moment? What does the society look like? After that, we are thrown back in time (four days to be exact) and can watch as the pieces fall into place. Until finally the inevitable will happen.
The suspense of the story is that we don’t know why the events happened. We just saw how. Still, the first couple of pages and the dialogue within them were a bit difficult to read. Mainly because there is a lot of exposition and business-talk put into the conversations. The characters are talking about companies, business deals, and possible corruption. It is a lot of information about companies we never heard of, in a short amount of time. But it seems necessary to understand everything that is going on.
What I like about Opportunities are the transitions from one situation to another. They are done perfectly, and you get a sense of the surroundings. Where is everything? How are the rooms designed and where is the furniture? Where is this particular character in relation to another? In one scene, for example, we follow Jack and Sara as they enter the hotel and walk through the entrance hall while talking to each other. When they leave, the next panel zooms out a bit so that we can see a larger portion of the room. Then we continue with Vigi, a new character, who is in another corner of the same entrance hall. And most of the transitions are done this way.
The whole story takes place in the hotel, so it is great to get to know this place. Every corner, hallway and plant — after the first couple of issues, you are very familiar with it. I feel like I could walk into that hotel myself and know the main things. This is important because now that you know this place, you can focus on the dialogue and the relationships between the characters.
As I said, sometimes the discussions can feel a bit dragged out, because they need to deliver a lot of information and do some exposition. However, they are also funny, creative and each character seems to have his or her way to talk. This is very important, particularly when you have so many characters, as in this story. You don’t just recognize them by the way they look, but also by the way they talk. Are they confident or not? Are they a businessman, regular people or something else?
This “something else” is particularly interesting, because there are a lot of aliens involved in Opportunities. One of the key elements of the society we are presented with concerns how they are treated by the humans. Like lesser creatures. Animals who do not belong here. Some of the people in the hotel call them animals, avoid them, or hit them. Even the waiters draw straws, to find out who is the unlucky bastard that has to cover the table with the aliens. It hurts to see people behave like that. You see the disgust in the facial expressions of the humans when they encounter one.
The artwork is great as well. The design of the aliens resemble animals, which is nice. I especially like The Janitor, a huge turtle – the scene where he enters the lift? Priceless! One of my favorite characters is Vigi, a creature clearly inspired by insects. Everyone seems to have their way to move and behave. Regarding the aliens, it is a bit easier to see — because, by the way they look you expect them to act in a certain way. But this applies to the human characters as well.
Read it! To be honest, when I started this review I was not quite sure if I liked Opportunities very much. It was an interesting concept. Firstly because we knew the outcome from the first four pages and the newscast, and also because everything takes place inside the hotel. But the genre and the fact that it is about terrorism… I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read about that topic in my comics.
Nevertheless, the relationships and delivery of the story changed my mind. I definitely will reread the first pages, just to know the relationships better and how the companies are interlinked. I want to finish the first book and see how it ends.