Rebirth of the Gangster #1 is the story of Marcus Thompson, a rich black prosecution lawyer who is swept into a life of crime. Described by writer CJ Standal as Breaking Bad meets The Wire meets Othello, the series is steeped in noir roots but charges forward with a modern take on these stories.
The first issue of Rebirth of the Gangster is slow-paced and methodical. This is a double-edged sword. Modern comic book fans are used to a faster pace, but this series reads like the opening act of a play, building a solid foundation of characters, foreshadowing, and circumstance for future issues to build upon. In my opinion, this is the only way this story could be told. Mysteries and the best crime stories have to be slowly rolled out and established before shaking everything up. Even with the issues of pace, this is a solid issue and I’m willing to bet when the first arc is put together in trade, it will be nothing short of epic.
Standal has great range as a writer. The book opens with philosophical musings from Marcus and a grandiose speech from his father, Curtis, but dives into slang and swearing of more ordinary speech without missing a beat, and, more importantly, while feeling like they belong in the same universe. The dialogue, as much as the art, depicts the setting the characters find themselves in. Ballroom or street. Convenience store or back alley. Rich or poor.
Inside the cover, Rebirth of the Gangster is a black-and-white book which perfectly suits the story. This artistic choice adds to the setting’s feeling of noir and brings out the grittiness in later scenes. Excepting even the color comparison, Romera’s style, especially surrounding his characters, has a similarity to The Walking Dead. This further sets the tone for a story with a focus on characters and where, you just know, really bad things are going to happen to anyone you fall in love with.
At its heart, this comic is about family, and it’s the skeletons in the Thompson family’s closets that provides this book’s biggest hook. There is something more to Marcus’ charity-founding father, Curtis, and a mystery surrounding the death of Marcus’ grandpa who passed on the same day Marcus was born. The breadcrumbs Standal drops bring into question everything about this family and starts the mystery off with a bang.
Rebirth of the Gangster #1 is available for sale in the Kindle Store. Currently, Standal is raising money on Kickstarter for Issue #2. Learn more about the series and donate to this passionate crime noir story here.
4.5 out of 5 Breaking Bad References