By: Christos N. Gage (writer), Chris Samnee (art) and Clem Robins (letters)
The Story: A serial killer is beheading victims in NYC, and people are getting holes drilled in their heads, giving them powers of precognition.
What’s Good: This was a very fast paced hardcover OGN from Vertigo’s Crime series. Checking in at 180 digest-sized pages, I chewed through it in ~70 minutes over two sittings. It was a good, fun and fast read. The well paced story is that of a “hard-boiled detective trying to catch the serial killer” with a kind of X-Files (or Fringe, for the younger readers) twist. In a lot of ways, I felt like Gage was kind of paying homage to the serial killer/thriller genre because a lot of the cliches of the genre are in here, but when they play out in a predictable fashion it is fun rather than groan-worthy. I’d compare it to watching a Tarantino movie where he is playing up Western themes in a fun and slightly cheesy way. On top of that, there were a couple of plot twists toward the end that I didn’t see coming, yet they weren’t plot twists for the sake of plot twists. I loathe gratuitous plot twists!
The Samnee art is also a joy. Being B&W and in digest format, it really reminded me of the art in some of the more realistic newspaper strips like Rex Morgan. That may sound like a slam on a comic artist, but I don’t mean it that way at all. It’s well done, clear and tells the story without resorting to needless splash pages.
What’s not so good: Some of the cliches are a little over the top. The romance between the hard-boiled detective and the psychiatrist is cheesy and predictable. There is also a scene where the killer is holding someone at knife point and tells the detective to drop his gun and he’ll let the person go. “How do I know you’ll keep your word?,” says the detective. I’m sure you can guess the answer: “You don’t, but what choice do you have…..” Like I said above, this book has an homage feel to it, but sometimes it gets into cheesy territory. There are also a few plot points about the detective’s past that are left dangling.
Conclusion: This is certainly an enjoyable read and a nice book to have to hand to another adult who thinks that comics are all men in spandex.