Film noir, crime noir, or however you want to call it is a dime a dozen in comics these days. Separating yourself from the pack is difficult and after speaking with Victorie City writer Keith Carmack we have high hopes for this title. Question is, is it good?
Victorie City #1 (IDW Publishing)
This is a four issue series focusing on a straight-laced cop fighting for his job whilst a killer is on the loose with a tinge of supernatural element.
Why does this book matter?
Sometimes books stand out because of the art and this is no exception. Vincent Nappi draws in a muddy expressionistic style that wraps this story in a dreamlike and nightmarish state. That creates an atmosphere that’s tantalizing since so many crime dramas shoot straight. On top of the mystery the supernatural element is something to keep your eye on.
Don’t answer him!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This book lives and dies by the art and that might mean some of you will not be interested. There are times when backgrounds are simply streaks of paint which can be a bit unnerving. It’s hard to get a grasp on some scenes, but that works for me. Especially the sound effects. For instance, Nappi plays around with a “sploosh” that’s downright disturbing as the killer enacts his violence. Another instance of this style working well is a fight sequence with elbows and fists going into faces. It’s very organic and rapid, with thin lines on faces cohabitating with thick ink lines of sleeves. The use of color, splotches here and there for example, reminds me of Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith’s Fell. That was an extremely solid crime drama and this is very similar in its esoteric atmosphere.
That goes with the story too and I think Carmack largely succeeds. Sure the protagonist is a bit run of the mill and a cop we’ve seen before, but his goodness doesn’t come without barbs. He’s willing to fight and do what’s right and that comes off clearly. Meanwhile the bad guy is quite creepy and seems to have a side to him that’s good. That makes him instantly intriguing and his character development will be something worth watching as the story progresses.
It can’t be perfect can it?
As of this issue it’s hard to tell what the supernatural element is that the solicit states. So far the bad guy seems to be insane so when he says something about stealing souls you don’t take his word for it. That element is lost and that could have separated this from the pack a bit more.
The lesson here is…always feed your children.
… Which is ultimately the main issue I had with this book. Aside from the art this is very much a run of the mill cop drama. This is basically a mash up of Training Day meets Seven with no defining characteristics to separate it from the two. That said it’s also a compliment to the comic that it’s similar to those two great movies, but it’s unfortunate it isn’t defining itself just yet.
Is It Good?
A good crime noir with fantastically moody art style that imbues a strong atmosphere of the weird. It doesn’t quite feel unique enough just yet, but it’s worth keeping an eye on when issue #2 releases. Fans of Seven and Training Day should check this out.