Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Christian Ward
Artwork: Sami Kivela
Colours: Dee Cunniffe
Lettering: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Release Date: 28th August 2019
Elliott Ness, prohibition agent, scourge of the underworld, and along with his “Untouchables”, famed for their part in bringing down Al Capone and his criminal empire.
If the title wasn’t enough of a giveaway for you, this series is an alternate history of the 1920s (displaced slightly to the early 1930’s) prohibition era in America, and the agents who enforced it. However, rather than breaking up illegal stills and smashing up speakeasies full of bootleg gin, Ness and his elite team of agents are fighting a war against the distribution of dangerous and illegal magical enhancers known as “Lick”.
First-time writer Christian Ward has the advantage of having a well-established story to base this series on, something he uses to his full advantage, utilising the extraordinary, fantastical aspects of his story to weave something new while still delivering a textbook noir thriller.
I thoroughly enjoyed the set up for this series. It’ has just the right level of dark, gritty supernaturalism that you would expect from a Dark Horse title, and with it being a familiar story, it leaves you free to concentrate on the new. Personally though, as much as I’m enjoying the mystical twist to the story, It’s the thriller/noir aspects that I’m realty digging, and I think, for me at least, they’ve got the balance spot on.
There are some wonderfully dark turns in this issue, whether it’s a very graphic and to the point threat from the mob or the reveal of unexpected weakness in the just and upright. Dark Horse has always been best known for its horror titles, but for me, they’ve been a little off the boil lately, so it’s encouraging to see them bringing back the feel of their early classics.
The artwork throughout is great. Sami Kivelä’s art is reminiscent of Sean Phillips’ work on Fatale, and for the most part looks like it might actually have come straight out of a 1930s comic. A favourite colourist of mine, Dee Cunniffe is working on this series and, as always, brings his A-game. I very much like the fact that Kivelä and Cunniffe don’t stray too far visually from this being a realistic 1930’s Chicago. I think that if they’d gone with a more Steampunk feel, as would likely have been a lot of people’s approach to this kind of story, it would have lost a lot of its impact.
All in all, this is a solid start to an exciting new series, and one I will be definitely adding to my pull list.
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek