Pullbox Reviews: Djinn Hunter – Every wish comes with a price…

The cosmos are in chaos! The elder council of djinn must stop their rogue member, Abyss and his minions from granting wishes to mortals resulting in untold horrors. The council’s solution is an early prison release for Zara, the Djinn Hunter. With her phoenix parole officer, Bennu, will she hunt down the mad djinn or doom the realms to destruction?

An all or nothing bid to save the world that starts with the pardon of a would-be hero, imprisoned for following their conscience rather than orders, isn’t new. We’ve seen it played out in multiple forms and formats, to varying degrees of success. But before you start thinking that I’m dissing Djinn Hunter or it’s following a predetermined path like a side-scrolling video game, let’s be clear. Just because it’s a well-used story telling device doesn’t automatically make it bad.

I’ll be honest, though, the first page of Djinn Hunter #1 had me thinking that I might be getting into another adolescent boy’s fantasy brought to the page. The imagery fit very nicely into the over-used bondage fantasy that too many titles rely on to make sales in a reader demographic we won’t name. I’m very relieved and happy to report that once we move on to the second page, the story gets past that and starts to put some meat on its bones.

Watching Jay Sandlin dip into yet another genre for this fantasy action title, it was kinda cool being able to read through this series without the month-long gaps between issues. At first, it almost felt like there was some struggle to get into a more medieval style of dialogue… not surprising seeing as Sandlin’s writing credits to date are set in more contemporary times (Over the Ropes, Hellfighter Quin, and his book of sci fi short stories Space Police Files). By the second issue, though, he seemed to settle into a groove that didn’t fall into faux-Shakespearean speech patterns, and I was able to relax into the story. And another benefit to reading the entire series over the course of a couple days was being able to follow along as Sandlin got his footing in the narrative and dug into the work of layering bits of backstory over the course of the first few issues.

It’s that gradual lead into the truth behind the Elder Council of Djinn and their issue with the greatest Magehound to take up the hunt that got me hooked into Djinn Hunter. Nothing so cut and dried as it was laid out to be at first, Jay Sandlin adds on to the history behind Zara’s fall from grace and subsequent imprisonment. Rather than just dumping a load of information in a single heap, it all comes together over the course of the series. I really like that approach because it lets the reader ease into what is a very action heavy story, breaking the exposition up into smaller doses without interrupting the rhythm.

So I’ve pumped Jay Sandlin’s ego a bit (Jay, if you’re reading this… ‘sup?), and it’s time to move on and talk about the versatile Fabrizio Cosentino. You wanna talk about ambition, Cosentino looked at the combined chores of illustrating, coloring, & lettering and said “hold my <insert beverage of choice>”. The artwork was the big standout for me and was perfectly suited for the story, which is as full of dynamic action as anything else out there. Cosentino has a style that holds aspects of manga & some western touches in his work. Djinn Hunter being about a hidden society of Djinn and other supernatural beings, with all the dirty dealing and double crossing you could hope for, the best aspects of both styles made this whole series a genuine pleasure to page through (more than once) just for the pretty. Another benefit of finding someone able to handle the workload of drawing & coloring is the consistency in tone. If you’re not sure what I mean by that, go online and look up black & white sketches colored by different people. A colorist can take a bunch of lines and turn it into something that may be far and away from where the original artist had intended it to go.

The other standout factor in Cosentino’s handling of Djinn Hunter, aside from the action itself, is in his character design. If you’re thinking that a council of nigh-omnipotent supernatural beings based in the various elements and aspects of reality should cover a range of looks, you’re right. Likewise with the main character Zara, a powerful Djinn in her own right but still battling out of her league when it comes to the eventual confrontation with the rogue Elder, Abyss. Her look does a great job of showing her nature as a “hunter”, bordering on feral and fully embracing her status. Cosentino got that memo, took the character concepts, and ran with it.

Finally, I have to give props to Fabrizio Cosentino for bringing it all home and wearing the hat of letterer, on top of his other duties. Sure, one of the hallmarks of a good letterer is being able to place dialogue so as not to interfere with the art… it would’ve been pretty bad if he’d broken that rule seeing as it’s his art he’d be messing with. Cosentino leans back into the manga influence, particularly in the more exclamatory word bubbles. Again, those pulls work just fine with the tone of the story itself.

When the issues were originally coming out, I lost track of the series after the first two. It wasn’t a question of quality, just time. It might’ve been for the best, because Djinn Hunter worked better for me when I could read through the whole series. I think it’s a problem with me being more in tune with comics released in larger chunks, like with trades, more than an issue with the story itself. However you read it, this is a fun read that embraces its action without shorting the underlying story, and it never seemed like it was trying to rush the reader along from one plot point to the next.

Final Score: 10/13

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