No not the influential punk band from the 80s — or even the Frank Ocean song, for that matter. Instead, the next big thing from Dark Horse Comics is a book about a covert team of agents that battle the seemingly supernatural forces bent on destroying our world. All the team has to cancel the apocalypse are weapons fueled only by their non-belief. That’s right, in S.H.O.O.T. First, a team of super atheists battle angels and demons. Think Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. but with Bill Maher as Coulson and Richard Dawkins as Fury.

It’s also my favorite comic book on the stands right now.

S.H.O.O.T. First has actually been a couple years in the making. The team — or at least a version of it — was first introduced nearly three years ago in the pages of Dark Horse Presents. Even then, I think Dark Horse knew they had a hit on their hands.

I received a signed early copy of issue #1 when I was at Comic-Con in New York a few weeks back. I was also fortunate enough to get an early look at the second issue that’s not due in stores for another couple weeks. (Full disclosure: the book’s writer, Justin Aclin, is a friend and my former editor at ToyFare magazine). Maybe it’s our action figure connection, but I was hooked from the first issue’s first panel: a variation on He-Man and Skeletor from Masters of the Universe. (P.S., Mattel needs to get on Samurar and Nefariar figures, stat!) More than that, though, I was relieved to see that the book features an international and multiracial team of men and women with a character like Mrs. Brookstone at the center.

Yes, it is possible to feature a strong, capable black woman without falling into “strong black woman” stereotypes!

Other members of the team include Byron, Bett, Kenshin, and — my favorite so far — Robot. The first issue, “The Bottle Jinn,” is all about rescuing, and later recruiting, the newest member of the team, codename: Infidel, an ex-Muslim the team rescues while battling the eponymous bottle jinn at a mosque in Afghanistan. And a badass superteam book would not be complete without said superteam having a badass reveal, and Mexican artist Nicolás Daniel Selma happily obliges:

shoot1p6In addition to Justin’s crisp dialogue and well-paced action beats, Selma’s art style really elevates the book. His clean lines and dynamic backgrounds and character designs have been compared to artists like Stuart Immonen, and I don’t disagree. I was unfamiliar with Selma’s work prior to S.H.O.O.T. First — his previous credits include the art on DH’s Tomb Raider reboot from earlier this year — but I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more of his work in the future.

So yeah, if you haven’t already, check out S.H.O.O.T. First as soon as you can. And once you read the first issue, peep Justin’s personal blog for a panel by panel breakdown of the entire issue. After seeing how the events play out in issue #2 — some interesting, others… troubling — I cannot deny that I am definitely intrigued all the same.

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