‘Black of Heart #4:’ Comic Book Review

“My stomach rolls empty, and I lie to keep her calm. There has to be another explanation. If not . . . that leaves me as the last to see her alive. Plenty of motive and no alibi. Unless they put that bottle of whiskey on the stand.”
“This is personal.  It has to be”


New York, 1949 – In pursuit of the serial killer known as the Vulture, Detective Drake Harper finds that the more his case comes into focus, the more tenuous his grip on reality is becoming.  With his wife missing and potentially the latest victim of the Vulture, Drake is quickly coming to realize that it’s not just obsession that drives the killer . . . it’s something more personal between them now.

In Issue 4 of Assailant Comics' gritty, noirish serial killer tale, writer Chris Charlton has thrown open the gates of hell and pulled his main character (and us) into it, kicking and screaming.

With a creative depravity that equals Hannibal Lecter in sheer inventiveness, Charlton’s dark creation, the Vulture, combines his pathology with a wicked sense of mythological homage, and, in this issue, the reason for his grisly trophies becomes more clear . . . and insidious.

Charlton raises the stakes dramatically with this penultimate issue, stripping away everything that matters to Drake, in essence, “purifying” him for the confrontation to come.  Examining the darkness inside of Drake, Charlton storytelling delves deep into the cost of knowledge

A little knowledge is dangerous.  More can be life threatening.  Threads come together.  The dance between hunter and hunted is drawing to its conclusion.  And, like all great noir stories, he’s deftly bringing it all together in a dizzying descent into the blackness in men’s souls, darkly illuminated by artist Hollenbach’s moody, oft-times chilling expressionistic layouts.  Of particular note are the two opposing setpieces of the raid on Luciano’s warehouse and Drakes awakening in a stark bathroom.   One is drawn in shades of darkness while the other is posed against the stark light, both masterfully executed and chilling in different ways.

“I start to radio in for backup, then catch myself.  Old habits.  Finding Patty will be enough to clear my name. I don’t need witnesses for the rest.”
“A cage is too good for this bird.”
“This Vulture.”


Verdict:        FIVE vintage Black Mask Anthologies out of Five

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