Money Shot #1
Sarah Beattie (co-scripter), Crank! (letterer), Rebekah Isaacs (artist), Kurt Michael Russell (colourist), Tim Seeley (writer)
October 23, 2019
Disclaimer: I am a Mass Effect fan, so the concept of sex with aliens is, uh, on my bucket list thanks to Garrus Vakarian, Liara T’Soni, and a couple issues of Fornax.
In the not-so-distant or implausible future, the political administration of the country has brought scientific research to a grinding halt, leaving physicist Dr. Christine Ocampo and her team with nothing to do on a daily basis—to the point where they are going through the same motions each day, and perhaps starting to sound like each other, as they respond to Ocampo’s attempts to light a fire. The Star Shot, a teleportation device invented by Ocampo, sits idle in the lab, now referred to as the Money Shot because it has blown a load of funds and produced nothing. A universe worth of alien life awaits, but scientists can’t afford to get out there and explore it, and the aliens are no longer interested in the shitshow that is Earth.
Later, in the privacy of her bedroom, Ocampo makes a shocking discovery: humanity has grown bored of the porn on offer. Never one to do anything half-cocked, and always ready to drag her team with her on one of her crazy ideas, she rushes into the lab to announce her plan: use the Star Shot to explore space and fuck aliens on live cam. For money.
Welcome to Money Shot #1.
There are so many ways this concept can go south, but for the opening, ahem, spread, the first issue, like Ocampo, grabs you by the short and curlies and demands you come along for the ride. And for the laughs. Intermingling the awkwardness of group sex, amateur porn, and meeting new aliens, Money Shot’s dialogue hits hard and fast, barely pausing for breath between its comedic beats and Ocampo’s efficient orders and clear enjoyment in her work. The rest of the team comes in various levels of comfort for this whole project, and the resident alien suspiciously resembles an Oscar-winning fishman that movie-goers had the hots for in 2017.
Despite the raunchy concept and baudy space bedroom humour, Money Shot #1 establishes itself as a book about dirty sex that isn’t gross or gratuitous. Its focus is on being fun and funny, while slyly touching on some of the very real issues of now. There certainly is nudity on the inside, as well as some black bag variants that offer it on the outside as well. And yeah, there’s sex. Artist Rebekah Isaacs is a most excellent tease, revealing just enough to inspire the imagination. The sexual politics, however, skew heavily towards heterosexuality in this first issue, which is very disappointing. There’s a moment of dialogue that implies something more, but that is quickly shut down and all the visuals and scientific research about interconnecting body parts have a very straight focus.
There’s a little bit of body diversity going on in Isaacs’ renditions of the humans, and let me heap all the praise on both art and dialogue that acknowledges how gravity works on breasts. Now that’s hot. As are Kurt Michael Russell’s colours, which bounce back and forth between cool palettes and warmer tones that heat up during alien sexy—and alien angry—times. Meanwhile, Crank! keeps the lettering clean and technical for the scientists’ dialogue, with the exception of some well-placed moans and groans. Sound effects are subtly interjected and quirky variations for alien dialects and computer-generated communication round out Cranks!’s arsenal.
Money Shot #1 is not just about the sex. The dynamics of the group are quickly established during and after the opening scene where it becomes clear that not everyone is fond of their intrepid leader, and that perhaps Ocampo is only the leader because no one else is interested in stepping up with ideas and action. Fellow physicist Dr. Bree Wander has no qualms about reminding Ocampo that she doesn’t like her. Astrophysicist Dr. Omar Steinberg clearly still has feelings for Ocampo, but knows the dangers of getting swept up in her antics. Epidemiologist Dr. Annie Leong and biochemist Dr. Doug Koch seem to have a little less baggage when it comes to dealing with Ocampo. They don’t hold back on their sarcasm and skepticism, but when they’re in, they are all in. And all of the scientists love their work, so whatever their hesitation about selling their bodies and perhaps their souls, none of it outweighs the opportunity to get their lab coats dirty, science-ing their way across the galaxy.
If there’s one thing Mass Effect has taught me, rolling through the galaxy trying to fuck all the aliens is not as easy as it seems. There’s politics and cultural etiquette to consider as well. The first issue ends with promise of more wacky fun to come, and also lots of trouble. And we can’t forget about the ratings and the crowdfunding. Will issue two get the crew the viewership numbers they need?