Marcus King is not a terrorist.
Anyone who feels they should begin with that assurance probably shouldn’t be taken at their word, but that’s where writer, Alex De Campi, delivers her first blow in Bankshot #1. Right before professing he’s not a terrorist, Marcus King lets us know his name is Marcus King. An asterisk directs us to the footnote, “No, it isn’t.”
A different color from Marcus’ narration boxes, the asterisk speaks from a place of anonymity of which the ramifications are great, but severely unknown. Should we trust this asterisk? Should we depend on it as a fact checker? If the asterisk exposed Marcus in a lie, does that mean the rest of his story is true, and is there a real Marcus King?
Reading this issue after watching the third season of Fargo, there’s a similar interest in exploring the nature of truth and its flexibility. Bankshot, however, is exploring this theme from the confines of war, where names are redacted, words translated, and the chances of miscommunication high.
Issue one takes place during two different points in time: the present, where FBI agent Frank Gault is getting told off for an operation that went badly against terrorist Marcus King, and the past, where the man claiming to be Marcus King is going on a military op against a dictator.
Bruised and bandaged, artist ChrisCross draws some of the most sorry-looking FBI agents put to paper, and that’s how you know they haven’t been beat. These are men with cotton swabs sticking out of their noses that ChrisCross hasn’t let surrender an ounce of their authority. He also gets rid of the stereotype of the taciturn FBI man. Gault’s emotions fall hard, and whether feeling shock or ferocious anger, he doesn’t emote in small measure. Colorist Snakebite Cortez paints war as polluted and hazy, adding dimension and making ample use of yellow for the action. It clashes and enlivens and takes everything up a notch.
It’ll be interesting to see how the female roles expand as the series goes forward. Arguably what has the FBI most up in arms at the beginning of the issue is that they were beat up for failing to apprehend a woman. Meanwhile, there is a woman in the room where they’re talking about this ‘embarrassment.’ She hasn’t gotten to say anything yet besides a cutting greeting to Gault, and her position in the bureau isn’t told, but she’s not in the room where it happens as an afterthought.
The most prominent woman in the issue is Marcus’ partner, but she doesn’t have a name either. Cortez saves the most brilliant colors in the comic for her dress and, while she similarly is limited to one appearance, it’s to publicly comment on Marcus’ business dealings. Marcus doesn’t hesitate to embrace her contribution and if this story is meant to be a “modern day Robin Hood,” Marcus seems to have met his Marion.
There’s a lot going on in Bankshot #1, and that’s without knowing what to think about Marcus King. The issue is rendered with such style that, while you may not trust him, you should surely trust De Campi, ChrisCross, and Cortez.