Chris Sides returns to his series of stories within the same universe featuring Frostbyte Industries and after being pretty much blown away by the previous book, Impossible, I had to take a look.
It follows ex-Marine Tali Clarke who now leads a life as a civilian gunrunner for a private security firm but being for hire can go one of two ways and lead you to an easy job or a hard job. Her latest job seems too good to be true with it’s offer of triple time on her day off but with her not quite feeling up to becoming a new home-owner with her girlfriend or facing her mother on the same day, she takes it and suffers the consequences. Being briefed at the pick-up point and taking charge of the cargo seems straight-forward enough with it being a simple delivery, but she’s soon being tailed and the sh$% hits the fan soon after that.
From there the action is pretty relentless as Tali tries to get to her destination unscathed, escape her pursuers AND keep the cargo safe but those chasing her are just as determined to get their hands on what she’s trying to deliver. They pull out all the stops to get her to stop and hand over the goods from hacking drones, to reporting her to police and even opening fire on her, but they hadn’t really counting on her being so adaptable.
The chase does bring with ti more police and even the military and the reveal of what exactly the cargo is opens up other options for her to escape but Chris is content to keep this one on a knife edge until the very end. The corporate men in charge of both the delivery of the cargo and the means to acquire it at any cost are the shadowy figures they need to be and they’re more than content keep their distance from everything that’s unfolding.
Chris KNOWS how to write a good story which we already knew but the focus he has on building a series of standalone books in the same universe and with that same Frostbyte Industries pulling the strings makes this another must read from him. The diverse characters he is throwing into the mix & the high octane action are a slick combination but he always has a way of anchoring that story to a central character that acts as the heart of the story…..and he does exactly that again here.
Teaming up with PL Woods on art and Srdjan ‘Sibin’ Stoiljkovic is another key part in making this story work as the action is captured with a real sense of energy and the varying panel layouts hammer that idea home. The colours seemed a bit too bold in the beginning for a tale with so much secrecy in it but when things kick-off they help breathe life into explosions, shocked faces and gunfire appearing across those pages. Ken Reynolds does another stellar job on lettering in among that relentlessly paced plot but he never slows things down as he goes about his business and he throws in design & editing for this one as well. Kudos to Matt Rooke on the cover art for this too as it captures the vibe of the story exceptionally well.
Gunrunner started off as an interesting read but when the creative team started throwing the higher paced sequences at us things really jumped up a level. It helps having a central character that’s imperfect & grounded enough to be relatable and while the sci-fi elements are dropped in here and there they never overshadow the fact that it’s human vs human with real risks being taken along the way. While this is a standalone tale, I can’t help but think that reading ALL of the stories from Chris that are connected (and even the ones that aren’t) is a wise decision to make and this release helps emphasize that that is exactly the case.
You can also catch-up with each of the creators through the links below too: