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Blood In The Gutters: Week’s New Crime Comics – Blue Estate, Pigs, Killing Pickman, Hitman
This week at your local funny-book merchant: Further Russian mafia hi-jinks in the city of angels; further Russian spy hi-jinks in the magic city; killing a guy’s never been so hard; killing several guys has never been more fun.
Blue Estate #8–When issue 7 of this book came out, I mentioned that though I hadn’t read the book yet, I figured I’d pick that issue up and, since I’d judged the covers to be so great, if I could say the same for the interiors. Head honcho Victor Kalvachev reached out and let me know that I’d be blowing a pretty major plot point for myself if I did that and suggested that I read the previous 6 issues. Never (well, seldom) being one to refuse good advice, I did just that. Blue Estate is a really fun little book, one I hate to damn with faint praise like calling it “fun” or “little,” but there you go. The art is stunning, losing no momentum with the story in spite of the fact that a stable of five different artists switch off every page. I’d think hearing about a cute stunt like that, that it would drag the book down a bit, but not at all. The plot is decent, and though the stable of characters doesn’t have a whole lot of new takes on the genre to offer, there is a character that makes fun of Steven Seagal, which is a good thing. The covers are still the best part, some of the most well laid out and richly illustrated ones I’ve seen since Alex Maleev was in his prime. Waiting for the trade would be best to get the full effect of the story, but I’m gonna track down and keep up with the single issues just for the covers.
Pigs #4–As I was working through my to-read stack, I came to the previous issue of this here book. I’d been less than thrilled with it thus far, and I said to myself that if this issue doesn’t kick my ass, it’s about time I cut it loose. Now, since I can’t remember exactly what happened, I can’t say it kicked my ass. But what I do remember is getting to the end of the issue and saying, “Nah, let’s keep this on the pull-list for now.” It’s not the highest possible recommendation I can make, I know, but sometimes a book needs a bit of a running start, y’know? In this age of trade-waiting (y’know, when a lot of people just wait for the collected trade edition instead of buying the single issues), a book like Pigs begins to come into its own. So I’m gonna at least stick around for the first arc. Trade-waiters, take note.
Killing Pickman HC–Speaking of trade-waiting: I picked up the first issue of this six-issue mini waaaaaay back in the summer of ’07, just on a gamble. The art was out there, a bit non-traditional for a hard-boiled story (a cop struggles with the implications of killing a suspect in a rash of missing children cases), but when things start to get weird, Jon Rea’s Templesmith-esque art gets the job done for Jason Becker’s script. Like a lot of indies, though, there can be quite the wait time in between issues. While part of me wants to crack the whip on the creators, I know that stuff just takes time, and a good book is worth the wait. The brunt of the blame, though, must fall on the retailers, even my beloved store. By not keeping books like this in stock, retailers are missing out on potential sales, and it’s harder for me to care when brick-and-mortar shops play the sad song of Amazon-is-killing-us. But let’s not dwell on the negative: this hardcover collection is only 20 bucks, so even if you’ve never heard of this book before, you’re gambling on a hardcover book at a paperback price. Hard to beat.
Hitman vol. 5: Who Dares Wins trade paperback, new ed–If you don’t already have this, then I feel little sympathy for you. Back before DC started getting serious about its backlist and keeping stuff like this in print, I had to hustle to track down all the ones I missed during the dark days of the late ’90s when I was spending my money on records instead of comics. Hitman was Garth Ennis’s lighter side during the Preacher era, a throwback to the days when he and artist John McRea worked on The Demon together. This trade contains an arc from when those two had pretty much given up on the more superheroic aspects of the book and just started doing pretty much straight-up comic crime capers. In this arc, hitman Tommy Monaghan gets caught in the middle of the Mafia and the SAS, all stemming from his and his buddy Natt’s days in Desert Storm. Any time Ennis gets to use the SAS motto for a title, you know you’re in for a treat.
Oh, and hey, you guys, before I let you go: check out this Kickstarter project by Rich Tommaso, a name I’ve seen around but never have actually read. He’s currently working on a graphic novel about none other than famed crime fiction author Jim Thompson, the writer of The Killer inside Me and one of my personal favorites, Pop. 1280. I’m gonna go ahead and pony up the cash to the creator himself for my copy (slated to be out in about a year) and I would encourage all of you to do the same.