By: Andy Diggle (writer), Jock (art) and Clem Robbins (letters)

The Story: A comic shop employee finds a phone with pictures of murdered people on it.  The owner wants it back.  Oh no!

Review (without SPOILERS): This was a pretty effective first issue to a miniseries.  The essence of the story is so simple that I was actually able to encapsulate the whole thing in “The Story” above.  The premise of an “everyman” being pulled sucked into the world of organized crime isn’t new, but as with so many things in fiction, a well executed story trumps novelty.

So, the basic task for this issue was to introduce our main character, have him find the phone and see the incriminating evidence and then flush him into a world of murder and intrigue.  Diggle and Jock come up aces in this.  I really appreciated how direct and BS-free this issue was as they didn’t waste our time showing the protagonist’s back-story.  Nobody cares if he’s a good person who visits his grandmother in the nursing home or volunteers with Big Brothers, we just want to see him get mixed up with an assassin’s cell phone and see what kind of plot twists happen.

The only thing I didn’t quite love was the protagonist’s “Comic Book Guy” friend.  CBG is pretty much the stereotype of the comic fan: fat, glasses, goatee, t-shirt, girlfriend who doesn’t understand, over-exuberant about comics…  It isn’t that I don’t appreciate a good CBG parody, but I’m not sure that a crime-comic is the place for CBG to appear.  I like my crime comics neat and the CBG is like putting soda in nice scotch.  As an old friend used to tell me, “You don’t put pop in your booze.”

The art is mostly effective.  I tend to think that Jock works better with a colorist, but if it is a choice between a $2.99 black and white comic and a $3.99 color comic, I know what I’d choose.  I guess I was disappointed a little just because there was only a page or two that made me think, “OMG!  Jock is sooooo awesome!”  Probably seeing the name “Jock” on the cover had my expectations out of whack.  Mostly, this comic is just straight-forward and effective comic art.

Conclusion: The brevity of this review reflects the direct nature of this comic.  It’s mostly good and if you enjoy crime comics, this is well worth checking out.

Grade: B

– Dean Stell