Tag Archives: noir

Review: Trista + Holt #14

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Trista & Holt #14 by Andrez Bergen (Iffy Commix) is the penultimate issue in this sleek, gritty ‘70’s neo-noir, dark as a night club basement and glittery as a disco ball. As always, this issue features eye-candy artwork, muscle cars and narrative twists and turns aplenty. Things have come a long way since the first spark of romance between Trista Rivalen, tough and beautiful niece of badass mob matron Marcella Cornwall, and Issy Holt, handsome scion of the rival Holt crime family.

They met at the funeral of Lou Holden, driver for Issy’s dad, “Anguish” Holt. Since then, Trista and Issy have braved every God-awful strange, twisted event a beautiful young couple can endure and they’re still in love—however in #14 things take a particularly drastic turn for the worst.

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While indulging in another long afternoon of mindless TV viewing with his clever and perceptive cat, Andred, Issy (portrayed here by a young Marlon Brando) sees a breaking news story about the fate of his brilliant, hardtack mother, Alaina. When he goes to inform his father (portrayed here by none other than President Gerald Ford), Issy learns that Trista could be headed for a fate worse than death and it may be entirely too late to save her.

Not only might Issy be too late to save the woman he really loves, the woman to whom he’s married is volatile, dangerous and wields tremendous power over both him and Trista. Bergen is unflinching in his weaving of narrative and imagery that takes us somewhere we don’t want to be, and as this epic series winds down, we can only hope for the best.

“Hope” is the operative word here. True noir doesn’t usually end happily and this is true noir to the bone, so buckle your seatbelts, mates, this promises to be a bumpy night of the soul. The final and most serious threat facing our heroine Trista comes from somewhere I never expected and from someone I’d already thought whacked — in the sense of the gangster vernacular — so trust no one and beware everyone, including close relatives and friends with benefits.

Story: Andrez Bergen Art: Andrez Bergen
Story: 10 Artwork: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

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

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Review: Bullet Gal – It’s Not You, It’s Me

BULLET GAL_Its Not You Its Me_Under Belly TPB Collection_COVERIf you love classic noir, you’ll love Bullet Gal: It’s not You, It’s Me by Andrez Bergen (Underbelly Comics/IF? Commix) only this isn’t classic noir. It’s a new millennium pastiche of every noir motif there is but done as a stylized, digitized, mind-bending visual rhapsody that’ll leave you feeling like you’ve been slapped in the face by a French femme fatale.
The protagonist of Bullet Gal is seventeen year-old Mitzi (no last name) with a murkily tragic past who arrives in Heropa with little more than the clothing a Beat poet would carry in her valise and her 9mm Model B pistols with pearl handles. She hates injustice and has seen her share of it so she has no qualms about using those pistols to wreak havoc on the bad guys. Who are the bad guys? Gangsters and composites of every gangster you‘ve ever heard of or someday will. They’ve heard of Mitzi and even though she’s easy on the eyes, they know they have reason to watch their backs.

BULLET GAL sample 143Lee, a Cape (i.e. member of the Crime Crusaders Crew) is Mitzi’s mentor in this twisted and confusing universe that’s part Gotham/ Metropolis, part futuristic Melbourne, and part Chicago in the 1940’s. Lee gives her advice and vital information, but there are eight versions of him, in varying shades of seriousness, honesty and sincerity, so Mitzi has to rely on her own sharp instincts, smarts and toughness to survive. And man, is she tough. Her worst enemy is one she barely even knows, but who knows her: Brigit, French girlfriend of Sol. He’s a bad-ass gangster but even he defers to the supreme villainy of Mademoiselle (don’t call her ma’am or madam, please!) Brigit. Like Mitzi, tragedy has followed her as well, only she’s the one who deliberately left it in her wake, often using sharp objects.

Sample excerpt 3Bullet Gal has formerly been seen in individual comic book format and those are all here, so you can start from the beginning, read each installment and conclude with the final issues yet to be released as individual comics. Funded through Kickstarter, this volume, containing the entire Bullet Gal oeuvre, contains interpretations of her by various artists, which is amazingly appropriate because throughout Bullet Gal, Mitzi takes on varying looks and shapes according to whatever visual media/beautiful/ tough-girl avatar/ image has been selected to portray her. She is always Bullet Gal, that obscure object of desire armed with pearl handled pistols only half as dangerous as she is, but the various representations only reinforce the idea of Mitzi’s sublime adaptability, an indispensable trait in Heropa.

To say that one reads Bullet Gal is somewhat inaccurate; it’s really more of an experience. There’s sharp dialogue and clever narrative but the visuals are incredibly rich and amazing, especially if you like hard-boiled noir, whether set in the past, future, or in a digitized sci-fi world that might get re-set at any time. Like I indicated at the beginning, this is noir run through a blender and spiked with a little something illicit and exotic that’ll send you reeling. At first I felt like I might be missing something, tried to go back and see if there was more explanation that would help it all make sense sooner but then I realized that partaking of Bullet Gal is like looking at an expressionist painting, reading a modernist novel or watching The Big Sleep; if you look too closely it doesn’t make sense. You have to take a step back and get lost in it; feel it.

After all, confusion, liquor, cigarette smoke, and too much coffee late at night are all integral to the mood of noir, along with a vague sense of paranoia, longing, and wicked humor. Mitzi’s world is awash in all these things but she is a creature of it and navigates the dark stairways, lonely hospital hallways and deadly streets with self-assurance and confidence — and those two polished nickel 9mm Star Model B pearl-handled pistols. Mademoiselle Brigit, beware.

Writer/ Artist: Andrez Bergen
Story: 9.5 Artwork: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Andrez Bergen provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

Preview: Noir Vol. 1 TPB

NOIR VOL. 1 TPB

Victor Gischler (w)
Andrea Mutti (a)
Ardian Syaf (c)
FC • 176 pages • $19.99 • Teen+

FEATURING MISS FURY, THE BLACK SPARROW, AND THE SHADOW! The Black Sparrow is a criminal for hire, a beautiful thief and mercenary available for assignments all over the world. When a mysterious organization hires her to pluck the Moon Stone from a New York museum, she reneges on her deal and plans to sell the gem for greater profit elsewhere… but her employers are not amused. To survive a deadly retribution, she enlists the aid of her former lover — the macabre crime-fighter known as The Shadow — and the costumed heroine Miss Fury. Will the two femme fatales uncover the secrets of the Moon Stone?

COLLECTION FEATURES:

  • Issues one to five by VICTOR GISCHLER
  • Complete cover gallery featuring art by ARDIAN SYAF
  • Introduction and issue one script by VICTOR GISCHLER
  • Artist sketches by ANDREA MUTTI

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Preview: Noir #5 (of 5)

NOIR #5 (of 5)

Victor Gischler (w)
Andrea Mutti (a)
Ardian Syaf (c)
FC • 32 pages • $3.99 • Teen+

FINAL ISSUE!!! Lost in the labyrinth of the Templars and separated from the others, Miss Fury must outwit the demented Minerva and the Mohawk Akash.  Meanwhile, The Black  Sparrow has problems of her own.  The sadistic Orlando has overdosed on Dr. Ravels super serum and he’s out for blood.  And just what is the lost treasure of the Templars that the Mohawks guard so jealously?  Find out in the exciting conclusion of NOIR!

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Preview: Noir #4 (of 5)

NOIR #4 (of 5)

Victor Gischler (w)
Andrea Mutti (a)
Ardian Syaf (c)
FC • 32 pages • $3.99 • Teen+

In the Labyrinth of the Templars, The Black Sparrow and Miss Fury follow the deranged villains Orlando and Minerva on a trail of a lost treasure. Along the way, they dodge traps and pitfalls and learn of the Templar connection to the Mohawk Tribe. Will the ladies be forced to join forces with the bad guys to attain their goal, or will one stab the other in the back at the first opportunity. Blazing guns, snapping bullwhips and the looming shroud of betrayal await you in the next issue of Noir.

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Preview: Noir #3 (of 5)

NOIR #3 (of 5)

Victor Gischler (w)
Andrea Mutti (a)
Ardian Syaf (c)
FC • 32 pages • $3.99 • Teen+

The unlikely team of The Black Sparrow and Miss Fury strong arm the Mohawk Akash into revealing a map they hope will lead them to the lost treasure of the Templars. But is the map actually worthless without the rune codes? Their quest takes them deep into the wilderness and to an ancient place that’s been locked away for centuries. Danger and betrayal lurk around every corner.

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Preview: Noir #2 (of 5)

NOIR #2 (of 5)

Victor Gischler (w)
Andrea Mutti (a)
Ardian Syaf (c)
FC • 32 pages • $3.99 • Teen+

The Black Sparrow and Miss Fury are a team-up that makes Thelma & Louise look like a couple of girl scouts selling cookies. They’ve got wind of a long-hidden, secret Templar treasure, but they need the man with the clues to help them find it. That man just happens to be under police guard and unconscious in a Newport hospital, a Mowhawk Indian with a past. The ladies decide to break him out of the hospital, and they don’t go about it gently.

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Preview: Noir #1 (of 5)

NOIR #1 (of 5)

Victor Gischler (w)
Andrea Mutti (a)
Ardian Syaf (c)
FC • 40 pages • $3.99 • Teen+

Prelude to Miss Fury! When thieves steal from other thieves it always causes problems, doesn’t it? So when The Black Sparrow is hired to steal a mysterious “Moon Stone” from a museum in New York, her decision to keep the thing for a better payday annoys her former employers who then steal it back from her. Now it’s The Black Sparrow who is annoyed, and that’s a dangerous thing. All she wants is what she stole fair and square, but she needs help. She needs The Shadow!

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Dynamite’s Noir in November

Dynamite has announced the November release of Noir, a new comic book miniseries that unites Miss Fury, one of the first female superheroes, with the Black Sparrow, a villainess featured in the bestselling comic series, The Shadow.  Written by acclaimed crime novelist and respected comic author Victor Gischler and illustrated by Andrea Mutti, Noir is a five-issue crime drama with supernatural elements, including an appearance by the ever-mysterious Shadow himself.

In the first issue of Noir, the Black Sparrow, a mercenary and thief who had previously fought and loved The Shadow, is hired to steal the mysterious Moon Stone from a New York museum.  Deciding to hold onto the precious jewel for a better payday, she angers her former employers and becomes a target marked for death.  Only the assistance of an old flame can keep Black Sparrow one step ahead her pursuers… but will The Shadow help the woman he once tried to kill?  And when Miss Fury, a dangerous and possibly unhinged heroine, enters the fray, will these three masked adventurers play nice… or go to war?

The first issue of the five-part Noir miniseries is solicited in the September Previews catalog for preorder by retailers worldwide.  Noir #1 features a cover illustration by Ardian Syaf.  As a special incentive, for every 50 copies ordered by retailers, they will receive a complimentary rare variant edition featuring Syaf’s black-and-white line art.

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Review: Ten Grand #3

Wow. Those final few pages, am I right? But let’s get back to that later.

Ten Grand is not a new concept. Even this particular mash up has been done before (Hellblazer, arcs of Sandman, Fatale). Nothing about the idea of a supernatural tinged detective noir is fresh; in fact, occult tinted pulps were common as far back as the early 20th Century. And yet.

The character of Joe Fitzgerald, brought back to life again and again by God or angels, is a holy enforcer at times and a private eye at others. Frequently, as they must do, those two roles intersect. If he dies a righteous death, he gets to spend five minutes in heaven with the love of his life, Laura, before being brought back to life. While it’s a great premise, as I said before, it borrows heavily from some very classic ideas, whether it’s classic noir, The Divine Comedy, Greek mythology, or the Bible itself. However, J. Michael Straczynski’s handle on the character is superb. His dialogue is terse and to the point: a Sam Spade with immortality. The narration, while a little too frequent for my taste, does an excellent job of getting across Joe’s feelings without ever being too overt.

(SPOILERS) It’s this aspect that makes me care about the book. I’m generally a sucker for the hardboiled, but this book has its hooks in me deep. Because of JMS’ writing, I’ve come to actually care about Joe’s life and Laura’s death. I too want to see justice done. So when things get a little predictable, I’m happily along for the ride. And in this issue, things got a little predictable. Maybe a half of the issue was spent in flashback, and we learned how Joe met Laura and about the beginning of their courtship: Laura pulled him from the wreckage of a car crash and played the role of beautiful, understanding nurse. The flashback mostly (and thankfully) skates over the bulk of their relationship, but I still found it a tad long. The beginning of the issue posited some interesting new information about which I was keen to learn; unfortunately, it was dropped until (presumably) next issue, and instead we got a mostly cliché back story.

But it’s all right. I care about Joe, and I care about his relationship with Laura, so I’m content.

Let’s instead talk about those final few pages. Ben Templesmith is one of my absolute favorite artists working today (I’m still mourning the loss of Fell), and my God if he doesn’t knock this issue out of the park. He’s known for wallowing in shadows and dark and muted colors. He’s known for horror and mutilation and disfigurement. And we get all of that in this issue. The demons he draws are terrifying and visceral, all blood and teeth and rotting flesh. The first scene of this book, set in a morgue, is haunting and drained of almost all color, except for bright spots that stand out and look extra ethereal.

And yet, the flashback scenes with Laura are particularly lovely. She’s colored in such a way to make it seem like she’s constantly lit by some otherworldly light and surrounded by the outer dark (foreshadowing her time in heaven and the end of this issue, of course), lending the book, at least momentarily, a brightness and softness necessary to match the blackness of the narrative and the characters.

Finally, we have those last pages, focused on Laura, surrounded by beauty and intense light, which through Templesmith’s unique style indeed seems heavenly. But suddenly she turns and sees a dark spot growing, a cancer in heaven and on the page. Demons ascend into what she thought was paradise, given a speed and ferocity few artists could provide, and drag her relentlessly down. The entire sequence is a perfect complement to the early flashback, showing the reader, and Laura, that no one is quite safe anywhere in the world of Ten Grand. Monsters, in human form or demon, lurk just around the corner. Cynical? Depressing? Sure. But damn fine reading.

Story: J. Michael Straczynski Art: Ben Templesmith
Story: 8 Art: 10 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

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