13 Coins by Simon Bisley, Martin Brennan and Michael B. Jackson (graphic novel review).

’13 Coins’, illustrated by Simon Bisley and written by Martin Brennan and Michael B. Jackson, is a blend of fantasy and, maybe, Science Fiction. Two warring sects of angels battle over the Earth and the bad tribe loses. The good angels take the bad bound leader, Semayaza, to Earth and turns his chains being turned into 13 coins that are hidden and unless they are found keep him hidden. This opening paragraph had to be rewritten after reading the notes at the back of the book because I got it wrong from the opening section. As this was drawn from the original six issues, it does make me wonder if its original had a similar problem and hence the clarification with the extensive footnotes. It isn’t as though you couldn’t tell the two angel divisions apart but the modern day descendants who have bred with humans nearly look as ugly as each other. The bad angels descendants are called the Fallen and the good angels descendants are called the Son, this is from the sons of Noah not the other chap who came much later.


In present day, the accumulated result, John Pozner is a bit of a loser but is recruited by the Son hybrids on Earth and seen as someone to be killed because as a direct descendant with pure blood is capable of touching one of the 13 coins that would enable the Fallen to locate Semayaza. Things don’t turn out quite like that and the plot of the story rotates around this and Pozner having to prove himself worthy of living and that’s spoiler zone.

As I said in the opening paragraph, I learnt more detail from the back of the book, which also contains the covers and alternative versions. Undoubtedly, there is a story here wanting to sneak out but it’s less obvious or misleading in the main story which could have had a lot more detail put into it. Although I’m pretty tolerant of profanity, it hardly propels the story along. None of this is helped by having too many close-ups making some areas of this graphic novel talking heads, even if the dialogue is minimal. Bisley’s art shows flair from time to time, especially at dramatic moments but the switch to the odd raw effect does tend to unbalance it.

I do wonder if I’m perhaps the wrong generation for this graphic novel but if this is the state of story development in modern day non-super-hero comics, then it seems to be going backwards than making something that would be deemed respectable material no matter the content. It’s not as though there’s anything wrong with the plot taken from the back pages, it’s just not being used well in the story which could have done with a lot more depth. Nice cover, though.

GF Willmetts

August 2015

(pub: Titan Books. 160 page graphic novel hardback. Price: £18.99 (UK), $24.99 (US), $32.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-78276-061-0)

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Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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