HELLFIGHTER QUIN #1 – No Nonsense Grit

Hellfighter Quin #1 - out through Mad Cave Studios this March

Hellfighter Quin looks Familiar

When I was 13 years old, I watched an episode of Star Trek; Voyager. The episode, “Tsuntakse”, featured the crew in the intrepid starship come across a species that revelled in a curiously named sport – Tsunkatse. A blood sport echoing the ancient sentiments of our Roman Empire forebears. For better or worse, a gladiator arena. Where survival and winning a bout were one in the same.

What's the score!?
  • 95%
    Awesomeness - 95%
  • 80%
    Plot - 80%
  • 77%
    Characters - 77%
  • 70%
    Tone - 70%
80.5%

Summary

Hellfighter Quin #1

Writer: Jay Sandlin
Penciller/Inker: Atagun
Colourist: Maria Santaolalla
Letterer: Justin Birch

A timely, entertaining start to a series filled with no-nonsense grit. Though the story line could hamper the longevity of the series if not handled correctly. 

Tsunkatse was not unlike the fictional Mojoverse depicted in Claremont era X-Men. Blood sport for the amusement of the privileged elite. Though Tsunkatse hardly depicted the privilege elite as the only purveyors of the sport (because Star Trek is basically socialism in space). It did embody a futuristic cage fight where victory meant life.

Hellfighter Quin #1 is hardly a far cry from the sentiments of the Star Trek: Voyager writers room or Chris Claremont himself. Fictionalising a world in a future not too far removed from today. And by world – I mean futuristic Harlem.

Hellfighter Quin #1 - out through Mad Cave Studios this March

Hellfighter Quin comes out of Retirement

Hellfighter Quin #1 features the protagonist, Quinlan Jones, aka Hellfighter – a long retired vigilante in downtown Harlem. In the middle of training a going fighter learns that a friend has made off with his old “Hellfighter” gear and entered one of the fighting tournaments.

A fighting tournament controlled by hidden clans. The prize? Total control over a mystical artifact, the Azure Sun, which embues the owner with certain “abilities.” What happens next is a series of brutal death matches that establishes retired vigilante, Hellfighter Quin, as still in his prime.

Writer Jay Sandlin does a great job in mapping out the entire issue. From establishing the core motivations of Quin to world building future Harlem in a less than obnoxious way. It’s the stereotypes of Harlem, whether still true now or not, that makes the job of depicting a futuristic Harlem easier to write. Easier for the reader to believe.

Hellfighter Quin #1 - out through Mad Cave Studios this March

Atagun’s art is appropriate, given the subject matter and tone of the overall issue. Though I would’ve preferred to have seen grittier techniques utilised in the fighting panels. Personal preference which I’m sticking to.

This lends to my point on Santaolla’s colouring, who I normally praise, to be fair. The lighter hues lends an air of confusion to a book which feels like it should be a dystopian story. Give me contrast, give me drama, give me juxtaposition. Give me something other than just a darker skin tone. Harlem doesn’t feel all that menacing this time around.

Where to from here?

As far as future predictions go I would love to see an “I Am Spartacus” storyline from Sandlin and the rest of the Mad Cave Studios crew. There’s something to be said about an African American character who can rise up and overthrow his oppressors. Quite timely.

Hellfighter Quin #1 will be available from March 4, 2020. Pre-order through your local comic book store or via Mad Cave Studios.