Writer(s): Duane Swierczynski
Artist(s): Keith Burns
Release Date: 3rd September 2014
Imagine you could gauge people’s moods, their motivations and intentions, just by looking at them. Imagine that all you needed to do was glance at someone and you could see a visible ‘light’ surrounding them that told you everything you needed to know about them. How would you use this gift? Well, in the case of Cody Pomeray, he decided to use it to con and grift his way to the very top of LA high society. Unfortunately, he chose the wrong mark, and wound up being sentenced to serve five years in San Quentin. And, upon his release, he finds himself drawn back into the seedy world he once inhabited, all by virtue of deal he made with crimelord Barnaby Creed to survive on the inside.
Ex-Con takes a unique and novel concept – the ability to read a person just by looking at them – and inserts it into a brilliantly paced and genuinely gripping crime drama. However, rather than becoming bogged down by the premise itself, writer Duane Swierczynski instead puts the focus firmly on Pomeray (or whatever his real name actually is) here, spending almost the entire issue developing this intriguing, three-dimensional protagonist who – in spite of his dubious morals – we inevitably find ourselves rooting for.
The artwork, provided here by Keith Burns, has a scratchy, gritty quality to it that fits well in such a bleak crime tale, and while some of his characters do lack detail in the conventional sense, he still manages to convey a great deal of emotion and expression with them, particularly in the case of Cody himself. The colours are restrained too, with a lot of shadow being utilised, which once again only enhances the general ‘vibe’ of the book.
Overall, Ex-Con manages to avoid being merely a ‘one trick pony’, and instead lays the groundwork for what seems poised to be a gripping crime yarn. Count me in for the foreseeable future.
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The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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