The Kitchen is a new crime book from Vertigo, promising a little more down to Earth approach than Bodies.
Let’s jump right in and see what we got. Is it good?
The Kitchen #1 (Vertigo Comics)
It’s the ’70s and our setting is Hell’s Kitchen. Three big time crooks have all been arrested for assault and are being tossed into the clink for the next five years. As such, who’s going to take over their shady operations and keep collecting on the “loans” people owe them? Well, besides their crew, the men still have their wives: Kath, Raven, and Angie.
Rule 1: When you see flashing lights heading towards you crime scene, you do not stick around to keep beating up the bodies.
The Kitchen #1 is an interesting issue: it’s mostly setup, but more in the sense of character and world-building focus. We get a glimpse at the legacy of the men the women are married to, the women themselves and the beginning of a very gritty and thrilling crime tale.
Character-wise, it’s a bit mixed despite the more character-focused approach: Kath is the main focus of the issue, being married to Jimmy (the leader of this whole shady operation), and is probably the most interesting. While more refined and nicer than Jimmy, as seen through her interactions with the other characters, she displays similar qualities and a comparable amount of ruthlessness. You can see the start of something big with her and she proves to be an interesting viewpoint to follow.
Raven is Kath’s sister and is similar as far as attitude goes, though much less forceful and more of a homebody. We don’t get much insight into her, but she’s fairly interesting as well. Sadly, Angie, our last wife, really doesn’t get to do much in this issue or stand out (outside possibly being the most quiet and reserved member of the group). Heck, she only speaks about three times in the entire issue and that’s it. Hopefully the comic works establishing and building this trio up some more as time goes on.
Looks like there won’t be enough money for dinner again, kids.
The writing by Ollie Masters is solid. There is a slight bit of decompression going on but the pacing is very good overall. The dialogue, narration, and interactions between the characters are excellent and easily the best part of the writing; they really help flesh the characters out a bit and bring a good human touch to everything. The story flow and structure for the comic are solid and there’s never an abrupt cut or scene that feels unneeded. The ending in general is very thrilling, especially with the implications it raises and how it’ll shape our protagonists from here on out. Fair warning: if you don’t like a good crime story from the villains’ perspective you might want to steer clear, since the characters can be really nasty at points.
The artwork on the book by Ming Doyle is excellent from start to finish. The characters are really well-drawn, easily distinguishable from one another and display a great range of expressions and body language. Little touches such as Kath and Raven looking like actual sisters and not exact clones of each other (as some other artists might do) are much appreciated and really enhance the overall look of the book. The layouts are wonderfully put together and the gritty nature of the book is masterfully captured — the utter violence and brutality are depicted with aplomb. Combined with some beautiful coloring from Jordie Bellaire and the fact the art is able to really capture the look and feel of the ’70s, this comic is already knocking it out of the park artistically.
For the last time, I’m sorry I stuck you will the bill the last time we caught dinner.
Is It Good?
The Kitchen #1 is a very promising start to this new crime thriller. While most of the characters need some more development, the story and character work we did see here was completely superb. The writing and the artwork were solid as well, making this perhaps one of the best debuts Vertigo had with a mini-series all year long. If you are a fan of crime stories, this is right up your, ahem alley and should not be missed. This could be the beginning of a real great and gritty tale.