Review by Frank Plowright
Cowboy Bebop is an immensely successful 1990s anime series about a crew of bounty hunters operating from a spacecraft named Bebop. Let’s hope fans remember that instead of the widely panned 2021 live action TV show, despite photographs of lead actor John Cho being used in the pre-story pages.
Supernova Swing deserves to be considered separately. While the title is obviously the selling point, new readers need know nothing about any previous version, and it’s for those who do to consider how faithfully Dan Watters adheres to characters and convention. What he presents is a fast-paced SF caper thriller stylishly drawn by Lamar Mathurin, with the colouring of Roman Titov and Emilio Lecce going a long way to cement the atmosphere. They’re not individually credited for chapters, but the bright and glitzy default mode over the opening chapter stands out as distinctive (sample art), while the contrasting subdued colours applied to the remainder doesn’t impress as much.
At the heart of things is a criminal performing an ever escalating series of audacious crimes raising the bounty on him with every heist. The Bebop crew are beginning to buy into the myth that Melville is supernaturally lucky, but there’s an alternative solution to his incredible escapes, and Watters makes novel use of it. His explanation of how folk would be seen if humans could see in four dimensions is a smart comparison, and it’s even smarter when expanded to the fifth dimension. You’ll never look at a pot of noodles the same way again. Having dealt with the gimmick, Watters ensures a human heart to the cast, with their personalities defining what happens in some situations. Spike’s sense of honour effectively weaved in, and there’s a satisfying sense of closure with mysteries solved and no loose ends.
Mathurin’s not the strongest when it comes to expressions, but everything else is very nicely drawn. There’s a hell of a lot of effort put into designing locations and filling them with detail, and he applies the same creative eye to how pages look.
It looks good, it reads well, and you’ll like the cast. A winner all round.