‘The Murder Club: Useless Deaths - Part 1’ - Advance Graphic Novel Review

“Hey, have you ever wondered what it would be like to kill someone?”

This line from The Murder Club (Useless Deaths – Part 1) summarizes the entire graphic novel from Tony Cooper. Main character Lisa appears to live a mundane life, attending a private school and towing the line, but fellow student Tom sees something else in her: a reflection of his own psychopathic tendencies.

Tom has a plan, one a little too thought out. He tries to make it sound like it’s an off-the-cuff idea – kill someone and frame another person – but Lisa has her doubts. At first, she abhors (or pretends to) the suggestion, but she is slowly dragged in under Tom’s spell. Maybe she is a psychopath after all?

Tom makes no qualms about killing someone. He has two targets in mind: one to coax into “suicide” and one to frame. The casual manner in which he speaks of the plan makes it seem like he’s rationalizing buying name brand over generic at the grocery store. He doesn’t seem to care about anyone other than himself, and that includes his recruit, Lisa. But, could he be up to something more than what he’s letting on? And, is Lisa as unwitting an accomplice as she seems, or will she be more than Tom bargained for?

Tony Cooper has brought a fun twist into the bored, killer kids routine. It’s always interesting to enter the mind of a killer, and it’s interesting how Cooper has broached this. Tom, on one hand, is almost annoyingly outlandish (deliberately so, I’m sure). Even though Lisa is still quite the mystery, she seems more reserved and almost calculating. My mind is still running through all the possible scenarios as to how this will end, which is a sure sign of brilliant writing.

The art is entirely black and white, which works well with this piece. It pushes the reader more toward the storyline with the perfectly balanced panels setting up the scene, characters, and mood. If I were to have one minor complaint, I thought a little of the dialogue was a bit overstated at times, with the same ideas being relayed in a few panels, but it didn’t jar me enough to make me stop reading – I easily finished this in one sitting due to its engrossing storyline.

The Murder Club (Useless Deaths – Part 1) includes parts 1-3, while the next installment promises parts 4-6. This first graphic novel does end on a cliffhanger, so hopefully that next one is coming to us soon.

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