In the world of underground criminals, everyone has a role to fill: weapon suppliers, assassins, get-away drivers, and the like. But what about the task of secretly getting weapons into even the most secure locations so that the hired assassins can do their jobs? Well, in that case, Johanna Tar is the person you need to call. Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are, working in the criminal underworld will eventually get you noticed. So, when the government catches up with her, Johanna must make a choice: go on the run or agree to help that same government capture some of the criminals she has helped in the past.
Crime fiction used to be a staple of the comic industry. While it is still popular, it does not make up nearly the market share that it once did. Gun Honey #1 is a throwback to those hard crime books–ones that are filled with big guns and small bikinis.
Writer Charles Ardai is one of the founders of Hard Case Crime, a publisher that focuses on the crime fiction genre. In the past, their focus has been books and novels, but recently they have added comics and graphic novels. With all of that, Ardai should know what he is doing in this space. So where did things go wrong?
Gun Honey #1 drops us right into the action. Johanna is already in the middle of her latest mission while the assassin she is working with is getting into position. Without giving too much away, the mission goes off without a hitch and Johanna is back home with her loyal cat quickly. Unfortunately, this takes up about half of the comic, and in the end, it turns out that it was nothing but exposition. This might have worked if the rest of the book was executed well. Instead, we get two quick transitions that leave Johanna in a precarious position. With little in the middle as to how the transitions take place, the book feels rushed.
Ang Hor Kheng has the art duty for Gun Honey #1, and, overall, it hits. Kheng’s linework is smooth and allows the characters to stand out against the background. The use of shadows to hide some details feels appropriate. It never seems to be used to hide a lack of ability from the artist. Being a hard-crime comic, eye candy is to be expected. However, at no time does it feel as if it was gratuitous. The colors in Gun Honey #1 are muted and match the feel of the book.
With his history and the number of awards that Ardai has won in the past, it is obvious that he has the talent to write hard crime stories. However, Gun Honey #1 is his first time writing a comic. That is where many of the downfalls of the book seem to happen. Too much time is spent on the exposition. That paired with the quick jump to the next mission makes the story feel incomplete. Once the entire series is collected, Issue #1 may feel like a bump in the road, but for now, Gun Honey is a hard pass.