By: Viktor Kalvachev & Kosta Yanev (story), Andrew Osborne (script), Kalvachev, Toby Cypress, Nathan Fox & Peter Nguyen (art), Kalvachev (art direction, colors, cover)

The Story: The first story arc of Blue Estate comes to an end: who will die and who makes it out alive?

Review: Boy, did I screw this up in my “Top Picks” of the week column.  Because Blue Estate had been away for awhile, I just mentally assumed that we were kicking off “Season 2” when in actuality we were ending the first story.

That error actually illustrates one of the great things about Blue Estate.  Clearly, I had completely forgotten where we were in the story because I was talking about a new beginning when we hadn’t ended the first story.  That kind of error would tend to imply that I’d be a little lost when I cracked open this issue, but that wasn’t the case at all.  A lot of the credit goes to the recap page that Kalvachev has included on each issue.  Compared to the the brick of text that Marvel gives us as a recap, the Blue Estate method is much better.  What they do is write little excepts from the story and show pictures of the characters: [Picture of Rachel] “Rachel is trying to escape a collapsing, termite-infested house with her new boyfriend Clarence” [picture of Clarence] “who’s been shot by…”

This is a wonderful little technique.  It recaps the important parts of the story that you’ll need to remember for THIS issue and also reminds us what all the characters look like.  More comics should do it this way because it keeps a complex story manageable and makes any issue a “jumping on point”.

Another thing about Blue Estate that totally shouldn’t work is the number of cooks they have in the kitchen.  Looking at the list of credits almost makes my eyes bleed.  What’s fascinating is that it works despite the fact that the artists aren’t trying to ape each other’s styles.  They just do their own things and it all comes together!  I think the credit needs to go to Kalvachev who has found a way to assign pages to multiple artists and stay close enough to the work to ensure that the artists aren’t doing anything crazy and finally tie it all together with color.  When you consider a comic like Batman #12 this week had a lousy art transition, it’s amazing Kalvachev seamlessly managed multiple transitions in just this issue.  It shouldn’t work…..but it does.

And….the story is fun.  If you enjoy, fast-tempo, bumbling gangster stories…..this is for you.  I love how every character is played up to be larger than life: the Russian gangster kinda likes American westerns, so he actually owns spurs and single-action revolvers…..the incompetent son of the Italian gangster is off-the-charts in his bumbling.  Great stuff…

Conclusion: A fun, humorous and fast-paced crime story with art direction that demonstrates that “multiple artists isn’t” something to be afraid of.

Grade: B

– Dean Stell