Runners: Bad Goods

Artist / Writer: Sean Wang

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            According to artist / writer Sean Wang’s bio, he has always been something of a rebel: “Defying a high school aptitude test that recommended artsy unconventional careers like stuntman, DJ, dancer and puppeteer, Sean Wang went to MIT where he got a degree in architecture.  Upon graduation, he immediately squandered that education by pursuing work in comics.”  Obviously, Sean Wang has always had a background in artistry.  A squandered education?  Judging by the artistry and inventiveness found in his sci-fi / adventure comic book series, Runners, one could hardly agree with that assessment.

            Runners: Bad Goods is a black and white printed comic book series depicting the hapless adventures of a space-faring team of smugglers.  Star Wars seems to have had a major influence on the artwork.  Aliens look very much like characters one might find at the Mos Eisley Cantina.  The ships also bear a slight resemblance to ships found in Star Wars, but Wang has created his own twist to these vehicles, giving them their own uniqueness.  The MIT degree in architecture has served Wang well in his constructs of ship interiors and whole cities.

            The Runners: Bad Goods trade paperback is a compilation of Runners: Bad Goods issues # 1-5 and an untitled short story originally published in the Small Press Expo Anthology, Expo 2000, which signified the beginning of the series.  The series begins with smugglers Roka (the group’s leader), bird-like Ril, Cember, Bennesaud (a Thing-like creature), and Bocce (a humanoid who resembles the author and is armed with a high powered energy arm) aboard their ship the Khoruysa Brimia awaiting a docking and goods transfer with the ship Tique Amara.  The group soon discovers that the Tique Amara has been attacked by a group of space pirates

            After wresting control of the ship from the pirates, the smugglers soon discover that the crew has been killed and a couple of the tanks that were supposed to be loaded onto Roka’s ship had been ruptured.  The group finds one survivor, a seemingly timid girl with a severe case of amnesia.  She is unable to tell Roka’s people what happened, who she is, or what is in the numerous storage tanks found in the Tique Amara.  Shortly after, Roka and his people find themselves targets as word spreads that they have recovered the Tique Amara and its contents.  In an even more surprising turn of events, Roka’s people learn that they may have been tricked into smuggling slaves.

            The action found in Runners: Bad Goods is exciting and plentiful.  The banter between the crew members is filled with humor and extremely enjoyable.  A side-track in the plot reveals a bit about Roka and Ril’s past, giving the reader some insight into the crew and their actions.  The artwork in the series is highly detailed for a comic book series.  The artwork of ships, cities and characters combine nostalgia and imagination to create wholly unique concepts.

            Also included in this 168 page trade paperback is a pronunciation guide for all those tricky little character, ship, and location names and an explanation of the artwork found in the Runners short story.  There is also a sketchbook of series concept drawings, providing the reader with ideas as to how the characters, ships and locales were created. 

            At $14.95 U.S dollars, Runners: Bad Goods is practically a steal!  The story is imaginative, the art work is excellent…I can’t wait to read the next installment of the series!  Sean Wang’s Runners: Bad Goods is definitely a series worth checking out and the trade paperback is the perfect way to catch up on the storyline!


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