TV shows turned comic books don’t usually immediately make folks jump and and run to the comic book shop. Then again, with 80’s nostalgia still wooing people in the music and fashion worlds, something like Miami Vice is sure to be a hit. Throw in a little Jim Mahfood art and a rather crazy plot twist and you might have something everyone will want to be reading…but is it good?
Miami Vice: Remix #1 (IDW)
Miami Vice is all about two cops, one white and one black, who have attitude and plenty of style when they hit the mean streets of Miami. This issue opens perfectly as they disturb a perfectly nice beach day for folks as they hurdle their vehicle through the pedestrians all while being chased by cops. Just another day for Detective Ricardo “Rico” Tubbs and Detective James “Sonny” Crockett. They are of course cops who are undercover, but maybe they didn’t need to piss off the entire force? All in the day in the life.
Somebody turn that Will Smith song on full blast.
Writer Joe Casey writes a pretty tight script here with plenty of short but sweet dialogue, a rather fast paced plot that had me checking pages left way earlier than I usually do and a plot twist that’s just crazy enough to work. I won’t give it away, but let’s just say a certain drug Rico and Sonny are attempting to flush off the streets makes people a bit monstrous. It’s a science fiction sort of angle that plays alright, partly because the villain is some kind of voodoo doctor, but also because the art by Mahfood is so spectacularly chaotic, colorful, and fun.
Casey keeps the TV cop show cliches at a minimum as Rico and Sonny’s boss is your stereotypical angry police chief. He of course yells, screams and is always angry, but later Casey gives him a bit of humanity to latch onto and make him a little more well rounded. Rico and Sonny are cool as cucumbers, but they also have a bit of a working track record that’s made them a bit more complex. In on scene for example, Sonny sends Rico off to get lap dances because he knows he can’t handle a mobster he has history with. Doesn’t want him to blow the cover. It’s a small touch of untrustworthiness but also protective behavior.
Fans of the original show should note it’s not an exact adaptation, at least to my knowledge, as Sonny harbors a pet alligator. How cool and outlandish is that?! I also want to point out I think this is taking place back in the 80’s, but only because someone is carrying a giant cellphone in a random panel.
Mahfood is spectacular here as ever and really he makes the price of admission worth double the asking price. Having reviewed his fantastic Tank Girl work years back I was instantly blown away by his unique work. To say the style is chaotic is selling it short, as it’s clearly all done with very specific intentions in mind. Panels change so dramatically though you’ll think he’s a bit cuckoo. This of course changes pace for the story and adds a lot of energy where needed.
Butt shot anyone?
He loves to use the Ben-Day dot whenever possible, which gives everything a retro look but he uses them in a few different ways. In one instance everything around the characters in a club have the dots covering background characters and the floor underneath them. That makes the characters and furniture pop. In another instance they cover buildings and the street they’re driving on which makes the heroes’ car and the police chasing them pop even more.
I also enjoy how he draws people—angular and sharp at times, impossibly long arms randomly to show the chief as threatening—it all adds up to a very personal world only Mahfood can draw. He clearly loves to draw women too with lots of curves and personality. Panels and dialogue boxes are also hand drawn which gives everything an organic quality. Nearly every page, panel and line has something to offer to the reader, either to help tell the story or to simply look cool. Clearly he loves what he does and it’s obvious every inch of the way.
You’re hurting my ears!
Is It Good?
This is a fantastic first issue that sets up the characters and story, delivers heart pounding action and drips with so much style it may just rub off on you. Don’t miss this!