Review: Trista + Holt #7

TRISTA + HOLT 7_COVERTrista & Holt #7, a double issue in Andrez Bergen’s noir crime saga based on the legend of Tristan & Iseult, features inspired artwork by Bergen and this time out Renee Asher Pickup writes the origin story of Trista, taking us back to Trista’s childhood and teenage years where we learn why she serves Marcella Cornwall, and the history of Trista’s complicated relationship with friend/ mentor/ father figure, Governal.

The previous six issues have showcased Bergen’s mastery of neo-noir, set in the 1970’s, in an unnamed urban landscape blending disco-era glitz with gangland gutter grittiness. References to ‘70’s television, film, fashion and pop culture come fast and furious along with hallucinogenic interludes and dream-like imagery. This issue incorporates many of those elements as well, and like in earlier issues, #7 features the noir convention of first-person narration and witty dialogue. Here, however, the narrative shifts more readily from noir to gothic and back again, and the artwork follows suit. We meet Trista’s mother, Blanche, and step-father, DuBois (real “pieces of work”), see the foreboding house where Trista grew up and learn why she’s more than ready to go away with Governal, represented mostly by handsome images of Patrick McGoohan circa The Prisoner.
Page-015The blending of narrative and visuals that take Trista from the age of dolls and crayons to guns and cigarettes is handled quite cinematically. Images of childhood alongside the threat of violence, seamless passage of time, and thematic loss of innocence brings to mind Night of the Hunter, the “breakfast table” scene(s) from Citizen Kane, and Pretty Baby, respectively, only instead of Brooke Shields’s pre-teen character in that last film being initiated into the world’s oldest profession, Trista learns the intricacies of firearms and cards as she’s initiated into the family crime business. The appealing, ever-shifting images of Trista and the playful spontaneity of her dialogue undercut the seriousness of her situation but she’s so desperate to escape her step-father’s reach she’ll do just about anything to acquire any degree of independence, no matter how compromised it ultimately might be.

Page-017Trista’s first meeting with mob matriarch Marcella Cornwall couldn’t be tenser. Again, Marcella is portrayed by images of Angela Lansbury, this time seemingly larger than life. We get a sense of the impressive enormity of her mansion, a gothic palace with a massive chandelier as a centerpiece, and staffed by a security force clad in outlandish disco outfits, with the exception of Geoffrey, played by a terribly proper Michael Caine wielding a double-barreled shotgun at the front gate. Marcella of Issue #7 is like a less delusional, more proactive Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard, had Norma ever abandoned the idea of a Hollywood comeback and focused instead on building an organized crime empire (imagine Joe Gillis, Max, and the ”waxworks” as lackeys and gunsels).

Page-024Trista’s way too young to be so jaded, and that’s the point. She still has the heart of a young girl but her cynicism is her armor in this new realm. Dark as Marcella’s world is it’s preferable to the one Trista is escaping and this may be the only thing that enables Governal to carry out her training with such care and precision, essentially escorting a child into a violent criminal underworld with a reassuring smile and a twinge of conscience at the same time.

Trista & Holt #7 takes a step back in time while making a leap forward in character development regarding Trista, Governal and even Marcella, who’s a tad more nuanced here, prior to the bloody chaos she’s set in motion in earlier issues. Bergen’s collaboration with Renee Asher Pickup in this double issue makes for a most refreshing and unusual summer reading experience: a Warholian fantasy where Philip Marlowe holds court at a table in the back of Studio 54, black & white home movies of a very young Edie Sedgewick flickering in the background. Then again, reading Trista & Holt in general (and this issue in particular) is like buying “candy” from a kind, handsome stranger at a nightclub. You won’t know what it’ll do to your mind ‘til you try it.

Artwork: Andrez Bergen Story: Renee Asher Pickup
Art: 10 Story: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

The artist/creator provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review