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Blood In The Gutters: Week’s New Crime Comics – Blue Estate, Pigs, PunisherMAX, Burke & Hare
Available this week from your local comic book merchant: It’s better to read this in one go, volume 2; Cuban sleeper cell does their work a bit too literally; Frank’s got some large household pests; everyone’s favorite Irish serial killers.
Blue Estate trade paperback, volume 2–For those of you paying attention, you may have noticed my reception of this title has been a little lukewarm. It’s a neat little book, all full of hot women and cold-blooded hoods, all the appropriate twists and turns. However, I’ll say again that Kalvachev’s covers are the most distinguishable aspect of the book. I don’t say this as criticism, since they are some of the best covers I’ve seen in a long time. But I don’t suppose it says all that much about the interiors if the covers are all I really get excited for, does it? Here’s the thing: this is a book that one really does need to be read in trade. The overall experience is very much heightened by the trade format, and Blue Estate strikes me as the sort of book that does monthlies simply because that is the way things are still done in the comics industry. So grab this and the first volume, and read the book and let me know if I’m just not quite getting it.
Pigs #5–This is another book I’ve really been trying to get behind, but have so far failed. In this case, however, I’m just gonna chalk it up to this book just isn’t that good. For those of you just joining us, Pigs is about a Cuban sleeper cell of Russian spies left out in the cold after the end of the Cold War. They all come on-line in the here and now and are determined to carry out their mission, despite the fact that Khrushchev ain’t around to bang his shoes on podiums anymore. One reluctant agent is holding them back, and much of the tension in the book so far derives from this twist. Last issue had some pretty good scenes between that character and his former best friend, another of the sleepers, back when they were kids being indoctrinated. But over all, the book just fails to hold my interest. I might come back to this after it’s been collected, but I’m in no hurry, really.
PunisherMAX #21–Well, here it is, the penultimate issue. This is also the final issue of the “Homeless” arc, wherein Frank and the Kingpin are to engage in their final battle at the old Castle homestead. This arc has been as great as anything either Jason Aaron or Steve Dillon have set about doing, and given that the next issue is the final in the series, there’s no real way of knowing what will happen when these two murderers finally duke it out. If the series weren’t ending, we could rest assured that the title character would live through this issue. As it is, I wouldn’t be surprised if they both end up killing each other. Either way, it will be a bittersweet conclusion to this story.
Burke & Hare graphic novel–For you lovers of Celtic true crime comes a new edition of this 2009 book. Back in the 1820s, William Burke and William Hare figured there was good money in selling corpses to medical students for study, and an easier way to up their profit margin was to just make corpses instead of digging them up. 17 murders in Edinburgh were eventually attributed to them, and Burke and Hare became Scottish folk figures, not unlike Lizzie Borden would in the US. This book, written by Martin Conaghan and drawn by Will Pickering, looks to be a slightly more serious study of the case, certainly more so than the upcoming John Landis film starring Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis, which has thus far only been released in the UK. All true crime buffs should grab this up, and at 13 bucks, it’s not too risky a buy.