‘Poe Noir #2:’ Comic Book Review

The second installment of Poe Noir is a compelling, mind-blowing adventure. Tim Zajac and Miguel Acedo have penned superb adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic tales while Graham Sisk’s stunning black-and-white art continues to leave me awestruck. Both episodes in this issue deal with obtrusive power and the subsequent breakdown that follows, retaining Poe’s dark themes but depicting them through classic noir rhythms.

“The Fall of the House Capone” is Tim Zajac’s take on Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Zajac provides a glimpse into the action and adventure of working with Al Capone. He shows what it looks like to grow up under mafia influence and the gangster philosophy of problem-solving. Capone’s house is more than the physical structure; it is his entire entourage and operation. Zajac’s main theme is loyalty and how it develops and evolves. I really enjoy this version of Poe’s classic, because it paints a beautiful portrait of the rise and fall of Capone.

Graham Sisk’s illustrations of Capone’s house and the Chicago cityscape are breathtaking. The windows look like they are popping out of the page and staring down the reader. I find my eyes looking closely at every corner, at all the fine lines, jagged edges, cracks, and shapes that make up the intricate architecture. I also am really intrigued by the way he shapes smoke to reveal other images, especially in the action scenes. Sisk beautifully creates large objects that bleed into smaller images. Everything flows effortlessly. The last page truly depicts the transformation and crumbling that occurs in Poe’s original story but in beautiful, noir form.

“Blood, Sweat, and Tears: Or How and When One Woman Chose to Smile” by Miguel Acedo is based on Poe’s “Morella.” Set in the 1950s, Acedo’s version looks at husband-wife and father-daughter relationships and the oppression that can exist in both. With nods to Freud and Dante, among other references, this episode is jam-packed with so many carefully thought-out details that will warrant the issue multiple readings. The crisp, back-and-forth flirtation feels like it is right out of a noir film. I love the layouts of the pages, especially the page that literally has readers turning the book upside-down. This episode also makes me think about the power of language and symbols.  It’s ending is chilling and tragic, truly capturing Poe.

In this episode, Sisk’s figures pop out of the backdrop of darkness. He exquisitely captures the tragic breakdown of an individual through the changes in expressions, sharp edges, jagged lines, and darkness. The ways in which scenes from the past overlap and intertwine artistically convey the inner turmoil of an individual with a troubled past. The softer curves at the end suggest release in a way that is simultaneously beautiful and tragic.

Poe Noir is a wonderful tribute to Poe’s classic tales. Adapting them as noir makes for refreshing, edgy versions of the original Gothic stories. Each episode is alluring both in the writing and art and makes for a truly gratifying reading experience.

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