Review - Stiletto #1 (@lionforge)

"I think this is the wrong way."

Lion Forge is always looking for new ways to bring in comic book fans. One of their newest initiatives is a 48-page format that lists for the same price as standard, 20-page comics. Stiletto #1 is the first comic in that new format. The issue is written and illustrated by Palle Schmidt and lettered by Sean Konot.

A crime story with a twist. The brutal slaying of two police officers guarding a material witness pins detectives Alphonse and Maynard against their toughest adversary yet. But as they get further into their investigation, they uncover a leak inside the police department known only as "Stiletto." What appears to be a gritty police drama takes unpredictable turns as our heroes race against the clock to solve this double homicide and flush out the mole who puts them all at risk to the criminal underworld.

Schmidt's narrative approach in Stiletto #1 is one of twists and turns set against the backdrop of a criminal investigation where cops are good and bad. To that end, there's plenty of dialogue throughout the issue spouted by cops with a jaded view of life, assuming everyone is a suspect and leaving no time for personal lives. What's especially admirable is it's very clear that Schmidt put a lot of thought into the overarching plot, ensuring that characters are making decisions pertinent to their personalities and not for the sake of the story. The issue's paced very well, with Schmidt starting the issue off with the crux of the case (and presumably series) in the murder of the two police officers. Schmidt has also worked in a time limit on the case before it's taken over by other authorities, giving the characters a further sense of urgency to solve the mystery.

There's a brutal simplicity to Schmidt's artwork that's accented by coarse linework. Schmidt doesn't embellish character appearance or backgrounds like many other artists do; rather, there's a grittiness about the characters that bolsters the overall tone of the issue. The characters still manage to look battered and weathered, with Maynard in particular sporting a look that reflects a cop hammered constantly by every aspect of life. Most of the pages are filled with neatly arranged panels that give the book a very sequential feel, but Schmidt does manage to work in one full-page spread that's just paint splatter and it's tremendously effective. The colors are washed out throughout the issue and further embellish the noir approach.

Stiletto #1 lives up to its billing as a noir story rife with good guys and bad guys. The lead detectives on the case are hitting dead ends everywhere, but inevitably there will be a break that will lead to plenty of other revelations. Schmidt's script is well-thought and meticulous, showcasing a clear attention to detail and embracing a smart narrative. Schmidt's artwork is very rough around in the edges in a good way that matches the environment the book is settling in. Stiletto #1 is a great, longer read that is setting things up nicely for down the road.

Stiletto #1 is available now.