Review: Trista + Holt #15

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Trista & Holt #15 (Iffy Commix) is the final installment of Andrez Bergen’s epic neo-noir saga based on the legend of Tristan & Iseult. It’s a double issue that brings to a rather quiet conclusion the story of Issy Holt, son of crime boss Isidore “Anguish” Holt, and Trista Rivalen, niece of notorious rival crime boss, Marcella Cornwall. Trista and Issy fell in love at first sight early on at the funeral of Holt wheel man Lou Holden and that fateful first meeting foreshadows all that is to come, including the ending, but not in the way one might expect.

As mentioned in previous reviews, Bergen’s characters are often portrayed by images of famous actors and pop culture figures, from Paul Newman (Issy) to Amanda Seyfried (Trista), and Angela Lansbury (Marcella) to Gary Oldman (Anguish), among others. It makes for a rich and fascinating visual narrative and increases the cinematic impact of this noir comic. This time out Jenson Ackles (of the CW network’s long-running series Supernatural) begins as Issy, with various lovely ingénues as Trista. When we last left off Trista was at the Black Sails Asylum and Issy was determined to save her from the clutches of Marcella, Anguish, and Issy’s former best friend Brangien, whose envy of Trista now borders on deadly. Will he save Trista? Yes — and no. If that comes off as a frustrating paradox it might help to realize this entire series contains paradoxical elements throughout: high tragedy and wicked comedy; the blending of noir and gothic motifs with outrageous disco outfits and other design excesses of the 1970’s, gritty harsh reality and dreamy magical realism, noir narrative and medieval legend. All of these components mesh perfectly to create a comic experience like no other.

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With all that has gone before in this story: shootouts, murders, betrayals and hauntings, the finale seems extremely quiet and subdued; there is, however, a compelling reason for that given the theme of this last episode. Things had come to such a pass in Trista & Holt #14 that I had no idea how the story would end but since this series adheres tightly to true noir narrative, a happy ending was all but out of the question. Once all cards have been dealt and all hands played the ending rings true, but that doesn’t make it any easier to take.

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Trista, our fabulous heroine, is an incredibly tough young woman; still, since the death of her friend and mentor Governal and the sudden marriage of Issy to another woman (the last person one would possibly expect), she’s surrounded by duplicitous and treacherous individuals who’ll stop at nothing to further their own aims. Add the dimension of passionate romance to this hard-bitten yarn and you’re left with the bitterest of love stories with barely enough room to hope it might sweeten with age. If togetherness means anything and if you really believe in true love for better or for worse, you’ll find some shred of hope in the way things turn out. If you don’t, add an extra maraschino cherry to that Manhattan before you settle down to read this final chapter. It might make it go down just a little easier.

Story: Andrez Bergen Art: Andrez Bergen

Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Iffy Commix provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.