Review: Carver: A Paris Story
Notorious gentleman of fortune Francis Carver returns to the City of Lights in 1923 after an absence of five years. He’s come back to aid Catherine Ayers, the wife of a wealthy Parisian socialite and the only woman he’s ever loved. Her daughter has been kidnapped by the leader of a crazed anarchist gang, a man named Stacker Lee. In order to bring the girl home, Carver will have to crawl through the underbelly of the city while confronting the demons of his past, before being faced with a final choice: succumb to the man he has become, or take that mask off and be the hero he always wanted to be.
Written and drawn by Chris Hunt, Carver: A Paris Story has vibes of Paul Pope, which makes sense as Hunt is a protege of Pope. Published by Z2 Comics, the story, now collected, is an entertaining read which definitely feels like the heartfelt homage to Hugo Pratt’s Corto Maltese that it presents itself as.
Carver is a war hero who has a heart of gold, though doesn’t feel that he is, and the story itself presents itself as a noir with a bit of 70s/80s action film thrown in. Taking place in the 1923, the setting of time helps shape a story devoid of modern technological distractions. Phones aren’t pinged, emails aren’t sent, things aren’t Googled, the lack of technology feels like it enhances the story. It also makes the weapons more low-key, knives, pistols, bottles, there’s a bit more of a rawness to it because of that.
The overall story has some hiccups. Like the vigilante films of the 70s/80s, not everything is explained, you just going with the flow of bad guys that need to die. Also, the story taking place in Paris, it doesn’t feel like the location is used enough. Speaking of, the character of Stacker Lee, I always heard speaking with a Southern accent, no idea why. None of that causes major issues, because with this type of story I want brutal fights, bullets to fly, and blood to flow. It all happens here in entertaining presentation where Hunt uses the art to give us glimpses instead of details. That allows us the reader to fill in some of the specifics with our imagination, and anything we imagine will likely be so much worse than if Hunt showed every bullet entering or every stabbing location.
The art matches the story well with a nice grittiness to it that enhances it all, especially those action sequences. Things happen quickly in flashes which helps with the flow of the story and also keeps us focused on the characters as opposed to what they do. Hunt wants us to focus on Carver the person.
I finished the trade wanting to find out more about Carver. There’s lots of history that are barely touched upon like his past love interest, his time in World War I, his experiences after the war. All of it leaves so much to be mined in further adventures and it sounds like we’ll get more. Speaking of more, we also get two short stories featuring Carver done by Paul Pope which are both entertaining.
If you’re a fan of noir/revenge tales this is a great comic to pick up and enjoy. The setting and character feel like an excellent homage to the past, something that could have been done then and being reprinted now. A solid entertaining read and one that probably flew under your radar.
Story: Chris Hunt Art: Chris Hunt
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Z2 Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review