Review – A Train Called Love #1 (Dynamite)

Publisher: Dynamite EntertainmentATCL
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Marc Dos Santos, Andrew Elder
Released: 7th October 2015

Ever wondered what Love Actually might look like if Quentin Tarantino had gotten his grubby mitts on the script before filming? Well! First up… eh… why? Second up: good news! I have just the comic for you!

Featuring three distinct narratives that’re inexorably linked through characters and locations! There’s love! Loss! Familial tension! Hitmen! A meeting of the neighbourhood KKK!

As the above may imply, there’re a couple of lines and scenarios that don’t quite hit their mark – a voicemail message from a local pervert is borderline mindless, and the suggestion from a teacher’s friends that he should ‘totally fuck’ his tutee is a little crass. The appearance of middle-class, white-collar and oh-so-awkward-about-it Klan sect is perhaps a tad on the nose with its social commentary too – we get it, a surprising amount of American white suburbia is racist as shit. Hammering it home with the ghost-masks is a bit much, isn’t it?

Still, the troughs are more than drowned out by the peaks in the waveform that is the script, and you’ll find yourself laughing out loud at some of the more scathing social commentary. Then there’s the fact that like all good pulp fiction, one of the threads here ends with a gunshot, so you can easily forgive it.

The art is great – Dos Santos’ linework is deceptively simple, and deliciously clean; like an alternate universe Hergé that decided that drawing adventures for kids was what all the squares were doing. It’s imbued with a gorgeous, grindhouse-y quality by Elder’s colour-work – expertly contrasting dark, grungy environments with the odd splash of high-impact neon clothing and hair.

I can raise but two criticisms, which I’m fairly certainly Ennis will brush off his shoulder like so much dust. Firstly – Valerie Halla? Really? We all see what you did there, Garth, but we can’t figure out if it’s clever or not…

Second – it may have helped to have had an actual Englishman review James Bond-esque hitman Myles’ dialogue. He veers wildly from what threatens to be a rather engaging subversion of the trope, to an almost childishly quaint caricature of upper-class English verbal tics – and it feels like there’s an editor somewhere in Dynamite’s HQ scratching their head and saying ‘well shit, it’s Garth Ennis, he must know what he’s doing’.

Those aside, this is a pretty engaging first issue – if you’re a fan of Ennis’ wit and wisdom, pulp fiction, or just something a little different, you’ll find quite a lot to like here. It’s not precisely clear as yet where Ennis is going with this, but it does look set to be a fun ride whilst it lasts.

Rating 3/5

RSavThe Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24

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