Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review - Black of Heart #1

Since its inception, New York City has always been a hotbed of criminal activity. The bad guys do whatever they want and the good guys do whatever they can to stop them. In Black of Heart #1 from Assailant Comics, the endless dance between the good and bad sides of the law takes another twist.

The title is written by Chris Charlton, with art by David Hollenbach and letters by Brant W. Fowler.

The first chapter of the five-part miniseries sets the book in New York City, 1949. Detective Drake Harper is searching for a tortuous serial killer known as The Vulture, a monster with a penchant for abducting women for rather nefarious reasons. Meanwhile, Detective Harper has his own battles to deal with, including the press and a crumbling marriage.

Charlton's work has criminal noir all over it. Detective Harper is a man who's trying to do good, but it seems like everything in the city is conspiring against him. Despite his best efforts, the Vulture manages to continue racking up victims, instilling terror and fear in the citizens. The dialogue is pretty good at conveying the story. Harper's life is about as harrowing as the case he's investigating and it helps to humanize him as someone who believes in the law and will do what he can to uphold and defend it.

Hollenbach's art is very stark and smoky. It's all black and white, with a few splashes of red here and there for emphasis on certain aspects. Some of the hashing makes a few of the panels a little difficult to see exactly what's going on, but the vagueness fits well with the tone of the case. The Vulture is sufficiently frightening and there's two panels that show who it could possibly be in a very nice symmetrical way.

If you like the pulp detective stories, then Black of Heart #1 will be exactly what you're looking for. It may be set in 1949, but it feels a bit more modern than that for whatever reason. The story is paired well with the art and offers a rather stark look at serial crimes. It's a five-parter and so far seems to be gearing up for something interesting and paced well.

Black of Heart #1 is available digitally now.

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