Writers: Tim Seeley & Sarah Beattie
Artist: Rebekah Issacs
Publisher: Vault Comics
***Watch out, parents – some content in this review may be TOO HOT FOR MINORS***
WHAT IS IT?
The second volume of the highly acclaimed character-driven, sci-fi sexploitation adventure series/dystopic vision of the near future with some lighthearted comedic elements.
Think Star Wars and Fantastic Four meet Boogie Nights with a massive slice of cheesecake on the side.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
After the events of the first volume, the XXX-plorers, the rag-tag group of scientists turned porn stars, have made it big in both the scientific community and the world of adult entertainment. Even so, the exorbitant cost of their wormhole generator that allows them to travel the stars in search of research and "specimens" for their less scientific work is keeping them constantly on the verge of running out of funds.
In search of either an alternate energy source or a planet full of imminently bangable aliens, Dr. Ocampo and her team find both in the form of the planet Cockaigne (which is unbelievably not just a really stupid pun), which trades concepts as currency and features genetically modified hotties as a native population. With this discovery, they can put on the show of a lifetime and retire at the height of their porn careers to focus on the research and science they intended the project for in the first place. It's almost too good to be true!
However, complicated interpersonal relationships are causing stress between Dr. Ocampo and her team. Moreover, The Covalence, a massive space government, has caught wind of the XXX-plorers and wants to shut down their unsanctioned travel between worlds. The best way to do that? Get the President of the United States involved. It's gonna be a shit show...
Tim Seeley & Sarah Beattie continue to impress with a well-structured story, likeable characters, and undeniably hilarious dialogue and circumstances. It's easy for a project like this to lose steam and energy, particularly when it comes to humor, but this duo refuses to drop the ball.
Rebekah Isaacs's art never ceases to impress. The premise of the story demands multiple visually elaborate planets, species, and concepts, all of which have to be really hot to sell the shtick of the comic, and Isaacs nails it at every turn.
Kurt Michael Russel subtly uses color to keep the reader tuned into where and when we are in the comic and who we're with. It's difficult to spot, but without his hand, it would be easy to get confused in this kind of sprawling, ensemble storytelling.
Crank! does a good job keeping the pace up and the moment-to-moment reading interesting. Even when there is a ton of exposition and words on the page, the varied captions and speech bubble styles create a nice, varied flow.
Money Shot continues to handle its delicate subject matter with sincerity and respect, even while pushing its own boundaries, showing more and being more explicit and graphic than the first volume.
As outrageous as the comic gets, it still finds time to explore small, quiet character moments for even its most tertiary characters.
The climactic scene (no pun intended) is an absolute romp of cosmic super-powered nonsense that would make Jack Kirby proud. It manages to be visually impressive, narratively consistent, and outright fun without causing any weird tonal dissonance.
The interpersonal relationships mostly work really well and continue to grow and develop throughout the volume, justifying the large cast of characters and giving the reader a reason to care about the continued exploits of the crew.
There's a bonus short comic at the end of the trade that is an excellent, pure distillation of everything that works about Money Shot.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
CONTENT WARNING: What do you think? It's a comic about space porn with a Twitter troll as a co-writer – it's vulgar and full of nudity. If you're under 18 or lie in bed every night worried someone, somewhere might be having a good time, don't read this book, it's not for you.
President Kirk is introduced as a major character, who is pretty clearly a parody of former President Trump; this is entirely too effective and it's honestly painful to read his whiny, egotistical rambling from page to page. We just got away from hearing his voice every day and it's actively not fun to listen to it again, even as a parody.
Sexual hangups and reservations are weirdly absent in the world of Money Shot, which is a little strange. As much as many friends of mine would love a pansexual utopia where anyone will sleep with anyone else without much convincing, it's conspicuously unbelievable.
There are moments where the premise of the comic gets in its own way and it's painfully obvious the plot is working backward from a predetermined point: namely, every solution to every problem has to be sex. It makes for some inorganic progression and eye-rolling moments.
There's an increase in the amount of crude, gross humor in this second volume that feels lazy and uninspired. Annie's entire character is reduced to making sex related punchlines and it gets tired pretty quickly.
At the end of the first volume of Money Shot, a romantic relationship begins suddenly and somewhat unconvincingly between Dr. Ocampo and Bree with not a lot of prompting or chemistry from either side. This relationship is the emotional crux of the second volume and it's kind of hard to swallow (again, no pun intended).
With Dr. Ocampo's romantic entanglements with Bree and Omar taking center stage, there's not a lot for the other two members of the team to do; while the comic justifies their existence somewhat, there's very little going on with Annie at all, as noted previously, which made her presence feel unnecessary.
Issue #6 and the short comic featured in the trade show off the wider concepts at play within Money Shot, and they work so well it somewhat cheapens the overall experience. As nice as an overarching story is, with this particular concept and characters, it's hard to shake the feeling that more self-contained, episodic adventures would better fit the tone and feel of this series.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
I don't want anyone to walk away getting the wrong impression, so let me state outright: I really like this comic and I think it's worth your time. If you read my last review, you may have noticed that this one was much more critical and, while that's certainly true and I do have more complaints this time around, I still stand by everything positive I said the first time around. Money Shot is fun, whip-smart, and full of everything that makes comics great as a medium.
If you liked the first volume, give this a read, and if you're curious, but never got around to reading it, then jump right in. The talent on display is breathtaking and the niche it fills is under-served; there are plenty of smutty comics out there, but not nearly enough about smut, how we interact with it, and what it means to us as a species. All that said, Money Shot is right on the border of satisfying and giving us too much of a good thing. Consume with care.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Hack/Slash by Tim Seeley & Emily Stone
Panty Vigilante by Erica Batton
If you like the art:
Reaver by Justin Jordan & Rebekah Issacs
Sabrina the Teenage Witch by Kelly Thompson & Veronica Fish, et al
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Tim Seeley – Writer
Test of Time: Has been writing since 2003 for DC and Image with over 30 major titles to his name.
Multitalented: Frequently pencils his own work and collaborations as well as fully creating cover art, most notably for G.I. Joe.
Dream Team: Shares a studio and frequently collaborates with Mike Norton, who is most famous for Battlepug and Revival.
Sarah Beattie – Writer
New Face: This is her first time working on a comic, being hired for her comedic insights and sharp wit.
Name Recognition: She is best known as a Twitter comedian, frequently stoking controversy with her irreverent and political posts.
She's gone to great lengths to keep her personal information private (probably because of her outspoken public views), so little is known about her beyond her public information and, of course, twitter.
Rebekah Issacs – Artist
The bulk of her work is in drawing Buffy the Vampire Slayer for Dark Horse Comics, a job she held for years before working on DC projects and branching out into indie comics.
Animal Lover: Describes herself as a "Cat-Lady-in-Training" and loves drawing and sharing pictures of black cats on her social media.
Frequently appears as a guests as comic conventions all over the country. The next one she's scheduled for is New York Comic Con on October 3rd-6th.
Kurt Michael Russell – Colorist
Dream Team: Collaborated with Tim Seeley on all of Hack/Slash.
Hosts an Adobe Photoshop and coloring tutorial YouTube channel.
Crank! – Letterer
Prolific: He's worked on over 700 projects in his career. Wow.
Moniker: Crank! is sort of a pseudonym, as it turns out. His real name is Chris Crank, but in almost all public appearances, he's listed as Crank!
He runs a weekly podcast called "Crankcast," which discusses comics, life, and sometimes food.
Adrian F. Wassel – Editor
Name Recognition: Is the CCO & Editor-In-Chief of Vault Comics, and plays the role of editor on most, if not all, of Vault's titles
Also runs Vault with his brother and father
Has personally helped other comics creators in their endeavors, even for non-Vault comics work
Tim Daniel – Designer
Multitalented: Also does all the design work for Vault Comics
Inspired by others in the business: Sonia Harris, Sean Phillips, and Fonographics
Dream Team: Co-wrote Curse and Burning Fields with Michael Moreci
HOW DO I READ IT?
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