Sinister Dexter vol. 1 TPB: Gunshark Vacation (2004, DC / 2000 AD) – Dan Abnett

3 out of 5

First things first: this collection is missing a couple of SinDex’s from the range of progs it covers, and I am factoring that in to the trade’s rating.  I can come up with reasons as to why this might’ve been done – that, perhaps, the particular entries were isolated enough to not affect any other references in the collection, and were spared to keep a profitable page count – but it’s still frustrating when there’s an opportunity to read an otherwise-not-available series in a trade, only to discover that some bits have been excised.

This guy: now digressing.

Dan Abnett’s Sinister Dexter has been of a consistent mindset since the start: mostly brief, compressed action-flick take downs, Abnett winkily using his two casual gunsharks – the eponymous duo – to shrug off ultra violence and gang wars in a continually amusing, self-aware-narrative fashion.  It’s fascinating seeing the starting point of this, when Downlode was more Russian and Abnett was determining how consistent to keep his tale-telling, which makes it especially exciting when you see the bits and pieces of long-running characters – Demi, Moses – come into play.  But that’s easy to say in retrospect.  Reading this is isolation, it’s an entertaining distraction but doesn’t yet register as a fully realized world and fleshed-out-beyond one-liners primaries.  The wild directional changes in art – though something of a 2000 AD mainstay – are amusing but distracting, with Sin and Dex and Downlode all looking insanely different via our varied illustrators’ pencils and pens.  That said, this is an era of Simon Davis I do love, when he was still rooted in comics – as opposed to his later, much more experimental framing / paneling – blended with his outlandishly colored, painted style; his Ronald McDonald spin on Finny is so weird but damn, it works.

Fits and spurts of stories, mostly establishing the rules of the gunshark trade, with the longest story the somewhat ho-hum titular one, which fleshes out our character set more, but as it’s the boys on “vacation,” has a similar laidback vibe that doesn’t demand its multiple parts.

Valuable reading for completing the SinDex experience, but definitely better with the knowledge that the title would be sticking around and growing from here.