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Blood In The Gutters: Week’s Crime Comics – Dancer, Shadow, Dick Tracy, Coldest City
This week at the finest purveyors of sequential art: Hold me closer, tiny blah blah; Jingoistic pulp at its finest; Two-way wrist radio not included; Maybe I was born to die in Berlin.
Dancer #1–I still have not read anything by Nathan Edmondson, though I’ve mentioned him in this here column once, if not twice. If I remember correctly, though, I ordered this because Image had a flurry of intriguing crime titles solicited in Previews. Or maybe I didn’t order it for that self-same reason–I get so many books as it is, and I’ve consistently been three weeks behind since March or so. Anyways, this sounds like a peach: A retired assassin is in Milan with his ballerina girlfriend when (natch) his past comes back to haunt him in the form of an unknown sniper. It may have been done, but I always like the juxtaposition of a cold-blooded killer and a warm innocent, especially if that innocent is also an artist of some kind. It allows the creators to explore both the notions of crime as art and of good and evil. Of course, that’s pretty easy to screw up and make all sentimental and sappy. I guess we’ll find out this Wednesday.
The Shadow #2–I suppose I could have guessed that Garth Ennis would set his Shadow story during the opening days of the Second World War. Not just ’cause that was right around the golden age of pulp heroes, but also because Ennis is quite the obvious WWII buff. What I’m really enjoying about this book so far though is that he’s characterizing the Shadow as this kind of jingoistic right-winger. Which to my understanding fits in fairly well with the original, not to mention quite a number of other pulps. The Yellow Peril was everywhere back then, and though the sub-text is quite discomforting (and so far nothing has been in-your-face about this; it could even be that I’m reading all this into the material myself), it’s nothing less than I would expect from Ennis: unflinching and honest. I really hope he sticks with this for a while, especially since The Boys is nearing its finale.
Complete Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy hardcover, volume 13–I turned 12 the summer that Disney’s live-action Dick Tracy hit the theaters, and so was in a prime position to swept up in Tracy fever (as opposed to the Dick-itis I succumbed to in college)(hardy har har). But as it turns out, I was far more interested in the brand-new Roger Rabbit short cartoon that played in front of it, as was the case with Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. I did receive a big paperback collection of old Dick Tracy strips for my birthday that year, though, and I read a good chunk of it. It didn’t really do it for me, though I hung on to the book well into my 20s, until I finally broke down and sold it in one of my rare purges. All that said, I’m really glad IDW is taking a page out of Fantagraphics’s book, so to speak, by reprinting these fancy hardcover complete editions, like Fantagraphics’s Peanuts books. I’m just more looking forward to Titan’s next Beetle Bailey collection this fall.
The Coldest City hardcover–Antony Johnston is a name that should be on your radar if you’re into comics at all. Wasteland is likely his most popular book these days, though I’ve never read it because I am pretty post-tolerant of the post-apocalypse these days. I never much cared for his adaptations of Alan Moore’s stuff over at Avatar, but! I happened upon a copy of his western, The Long Haul, with art by the legendary Eduardo Barreto, and that slim(-ish) volume was enough to sell me on the guy as a solid writer. This is another, similarly formatted book, which I’m also not sure I ordered. It’s 1989, and the Berlin Wall is about to come down, but some last minute spy shenanigans have commenced, not the least of which is a dead MI6 agent. Espionage agent Lorraine Braughton has got to go in and put the kibosh on this powder keg. I go back and forth on Cold War stuff these days, but you see so little of its later days in spy and/or crime fiction, that my interest is definitely piqued by this li’l book.
Also due out this week is the latest issue of Thief of Thieves that I’d hoped would be out last week, the second issue of Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons’s The Secret Service, and the new Scalped, which leaves us with only three more issues of that soon-to-be-sorely-missed book. So you got no excuse this week, soldiers. Get out there and buy some comics. Tell ‘em the Complex sent you.