Brian Wood's The Couriers: The Complete Series

The Couriers: The Complete Series collects four short stories from early in Brian "DMZ" Wood's career, involving a pair of courier/ninjas who run parcels for crime syndicates, shady characters, and other nonstandard enterprises. They're armed to the teeth, hyper-violent, skillful, wisecracking, and remorseless. Think of Kick-Ass crossed with Run, Lola, Run. It's lovely stuff, and the art conveys that Taratino-ey balletic violence in a way I'd never have suspected was possible without actual moving pictures. This is silly and fluffy, but witty and well-told, and it's the kind of stuff you can't stop reading once you've started.

As a bonus for Brian Wood fans, Image Comics has just brought out issue one of Mara, a new, six-issue future-dystopic tale drawn by Jordie Bellaire & Ming Doyle, which starts very strong.

The Couriers: The Complete Series


  1. Graphic novels and video games don’t cause mass killings, but I’ve lost the stomach to be a willing audience. Count me out.

    1. I agree, I have lost my taste for it.  Taratino is no different to me than anyone who profits from depictions of violence in culture – I can’t stand the sight of him or his work.  I remember when Hard Boiled first came out I bought the first edition, thought it was great, and wondered how it could be topped.  Now I can’t even open it, it sits in my library solely because it is a first edition, and it is willed with my trust to a local university with the rest of my collection.

      I am not so sure that video games (as one example) don’t cause violence.  Here is my non-scientific reasoning as to why it is possible that violence in video games might be a problem:Imagine that a child or a teen (I have one of each) was asked to play a video game for 60 hours.  The object of the game and the game mechanics were such that in order to succeed the player had to wander in a world where they had to learn and speak Spanish. Everyone they encountered in the game spoke Spanish, it was an immersive, fun and realistically compelling game, and they completed the play after 60 hours. It is very possible that at the conclusion of this game the player would be able to speak Spanish; when they were out in the ‘real world’, they would be able to speak Spanish, read signs in Spanish, watch Telemundo, etc.

      Now suppose that another child was asked to play a game for 60 hours, with fun, immersive and realistically compelling game play, where the purpose was to plot to kill people, and the player had to kill people mercilessly to win. The mechanics of the game were such that to succeed, they had to learn to use weapons, select between them, shoot everyone they encountered, etc.  They complete the game in 60 hours.  Why do we think that when encountering violent stimulus in the ‘real world’, this learning would not play a part in their actions? Why are we so quick to separate and defend cultural depictions of violence as innocent and ineffectual?  If they (violent video games, horror movies, war stories, etc.) weren’t somehow compelling, why would they continue sell so well?  I don’t think these things alone cause acts of violence, but surely they play a part.

      1. Video games barely teach nomenclature and fail altogether at teaching the handling of firearms, a person who only ever fired a virtual shotgun would need a shotgun to hit a target, but would miss if it were 25 feet away and be shocked and likely frightened at the recoil, the weight and the unwieldy feel of an actual firearm.

        The real world is nothing like video games, and if fleeing or other peaceful measure is absolutely out of reach I prefer my hand to hand over nothing at all in response to violent stimulus? in the real world.

        I don’t believe people do separate and defend depictions of violence as innocent or ineffectual, but are simply refusing to call it causal without it being demonstrated empirically. Children, people with mental instabilities and others prone to violence were prone to violence before video games existed, before cartoons, before war movies, before literacy allowed the masses to read books on the subject.

        Being compelling in nature does not mean that these things shape behaviour anymore than a Dali painting means that watches must melt in the sun. The most evidence that video games or any other form of amusement shape behaviour is that they can cause a person to want to play more or less video games, watch more or less movies, of what genre etc.

        Having been a fan of video games, having been raised around and trained to use firearms (no longer, nor my kids) and having been in some dicey situations in my youth where firearms and the consequences of my actions came into sharp relief, I can tell you they are nothing alike and of little to no influence.

        “Gun culture” + the mentally disturbed who have little support structure for their illness would be a problem with or without video games. Bullying, deprivation, desperation, these social and cultural phenomenon are present in larger and more telling factors than video games in all the terrible examples over the last 45 years since video games and other digital stimuli became so prevalent.

        Consider, the young man at Sandy Hook, all of his friends played video games too, so why is a common factor then so telling? It isn’t.

        I do think, though, given no outlet at all that there could be more violence from or among young men who in most other times in history did go into battle in some form, culled by war.

        If no video games, no violent movies, no Laser Tag, no toy weapons, no contact sports, no exposure to violence whatsoever were to have an effect on society, it probably would not be the one you seem to expect as told by the impetus for your decision regarding video games.

        The animals I have killed myself, for science or food, that did more to desensitize me than could a million hours of video games could. I felt it, cold and direct, but also recognized it as part of life and as warm, necessary to reach the ends I had in mind. I have a firm grasp of some realities though, and in the programs I was in people were indeed watched and warned against desensitization. So, so much more powerful than a video game

        1. Here’s a pretty nice example of how terrible high end FPS gamers are when it comes to real world firearms…

  2. I open the site to see what’s new and one of my favourite GNs is top of the site.  Hooray! This is an excellent story, and Brian Wood’s style is perfect for this sort of thing (hence his involvement in the art for GTA).

    However, it seems like the people who have difficulty discerning the difference between reality and fiction are not the ones the media would have us believe.  People are animals too, and violence is part of human nature, and to deny it is as damaging as embracing it.  Violent fiction is cathartic, and I know from first-hand experience that it can help reduce violence in reality.

  3.  People also respond to images emotionally, not just rationally. Your response may be cathartic; mine was to be reminded of dead kids.

  4. Hello, I am a reactionary tool without an ounce of self-awareness or original though,and I think violent media causes violence, because I have no concept of the difference between reality and fiction and I don’t know that violent media such as comics, games, music, television can be cathartic and acts as a stress-relieving sieve for negative impulses and emotions all people have.

    I also deny having any such negative emotions or impulses and will take any false highground I can to disavow myself of any such accusations and condemn those who openly admit to not being perfect models of a false ideal.

    This book has guns on the cover and must therefore be inherently evil and a part of the destruction of the moral fabric of this great country of ours, because no other countries with strict gun laws have violent media featuring guns and any such admissions that they do would destroy the narrative I’ve fallen for and am trying to spread. I have never read this book and have no clue what it’s actually about, but I will jusge a book by its cover because I am a complete tool.

    Grow the hell up. Violent media does not cause violence. Rock and rap music didn’t make kids kill people or themselves, neither do movies, television, games or comics. In fact, if you’ve ever played a violent game or watched some mindless ultraviolence, you’ll find it works as stress relief, as a sort of primal, cathartic therapy. It’s fiction and you need to learn to treat it as such.

  5. I particularly like the story line where one of the couriers’ younger brothers wants to be “just like him”, so he takes some of the courier’s guns to school and shoots nine other kids.

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