[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]
A talent scout meets a fledgling rock band in a warehouse in New York City. It’s 1987, and the music industry is in the middle of a huge boom. Martin Mills is the scout, and the band is Stunted Growth. He’s negotiating with Diane, the girlfriend of Stunted Growth’s lead singer, Billy. Diane is direct and stern with Mills, but Mills still believes that he has Diane within control…until Diane makes a surprise demand of him. This seems to put Martin in a corner, but he still has one last secret that could change the nature of the game completely.
Gunning for Hits aims to capture the excessiveness and cutthroat nature of the music industry at its height. Its first issue introduces Martin Mills and the latest band he’s trying to promote (even if I’m decently sure Martin’s name is never said in the entire first issue).
The negotiations are paced well and could be a compelling read for the first issue. Martin’s narration puts things in context for the reader and adds to the entertainment.
What holds the issue back–and admittedly I’m not sure how one would could effectively do this better–is the long and winding summary of how the music industry worked at the time. There is a lengthy cut in the middle of the story for Mills to explain how his deal with Diane and Billy works and how the music industry soaks up so much of the profit while the band can remain destitute. It is interesting, but it drags on too long and brings the plot to a complete stop.
The ending twist doesn’t work for me at all. I don’t want to spoil it, but it adds another layer to the narrative that it didn’t need.
Moritat’s artwork good and adds a lot of personality to the book. Many scenes bring you to that seedy warehouse with our principal characters, but the frequent change in quality of detailing becomes distracting. Diane often switches between close-up and highly detailed to a pseudo-chibi style anime character. Beyond that, the art gels well, and I do like the stylism during the aforementioned music industry summary section. Casey Silver’s color work helps maintain the atmosphere well.
Gunning for Hits #1 is a decent start to the series, and it has a lot to offer in terms of insight into the music industry as well as general entertainment. The ending twist as well as the summarized middle portion hurt the book, but the premise and characters still have a lot of potential. If what I described sounds worth the caveats, then feel free to check it out.
Gunning for Hits #1 comes to us from writer Jeff Rougvie, artist and cover artist Moritat, and color artist and letterer Casey Silver.