Writer: Ande Parks
Artist: Esteve Polls
Release Date: 2nd December, 2015
It’s a provocative thing to do, naming your comic after an infamous book that brought about the Comics Code Authority, and then claiming that the story contained within will be a ‘gritty and depraved’ story of true crime. Fredric Wertham’ll be thrashing in his grave, lamenting our ongoing corruption of the modern youth.
This is not, thankfully, an adaptation of that book into some sort of serial slasher monstrosity, despite what the rather excellent cover may suggest. Instead, we’re presented with a tale of a relatively green-behind-the-ears cop coming to 1950’s Los Angeles, where he is immediately embroiled in a case that’s seeing major figures in the crime circuit being offed in rather unpleasant ways.
Polls and Aiala’s artwork is for the most part excellent. Polls’ pencils expertly capture the subtle details that give the proceedings an authentic-feeling 1950s America feel, and Aiala’s colour-work imbues it with a pleasingly noir texture, with heavy emphasis on faces obscured by hat shadows, smoke-filled environments, and silhouette. If nothing else, it’s a great looking book, and the art’s been put together by two folk who clearly love the genre.
But ultimately, the story is just a little too thin to properly capitalise on the terrific work put in by the art department, pulling itself in too many different directions before going all ‘reductio ad Hitlerum’ at the issue’s conclusion. There seems to be an attempt to cram far too much into the issue, and the disparate threads only tenuously feed into each other, and there’s a couple that feel wholly unnecessary, included because it’s what one would expect a gritty 1950s noir story to have.
The dialogue thunders, too, and on occasion feels just a little bit off – with some sentences straying more into Western-esque vernacular rather than Noir. There are moments of flair here and there – but in stark contrast to the art, the majority of the script feels just a tad flat, which is something of a disappointment.
It remains early days, and the series could still streamline itself into something interesting. But there are worrisome signs already, and this issue is something of a chore to slog through. It also doesn’t really live up to its promise of grit and depravity either, with perhaps a single page flirting with being depraved, and the book as a whole being rather more sandy than gritty. Hopefully the story can catch up to the art in future issues, but as it stands…
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The Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24