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‘Black of Heart #3:’ Comic Book Review

“My knees went weak and then stiff again as my instincts kicked in and I recognized exactly what I was looking at.  Another piece of the puzzle had fallen into place . . . This was years in the making.”

New York, 1949 – After drawing a shot on a case he’s not prepared for, Detective Drake Harper finds his pursuit of a serial killer pulling him deeper into the darkness haunting his own soul. 

Dubbed the Vulture, the killer has slain five women in eight weeks, torturing and disfiguring them, taking an eye as a souvenir from each, then dumping them back on the city streets to taunt police.  But, as we learn in this issue, the story didn’t start when we think . . . and the body count is growing.

Issue #3 of Assailant’s brilliant noir-serial killer book, Black of Heart, continues its churning path of death and destruction across the gritty streets of post-WWII New York and the main character’s soul, reflecting the darkness that not only guides the killer but gnaws at his hunter, as well.

Charlton’s writing continues to be sweeping and appropriate to the era and genre, capturing the essence of noir while expanding his fertile imagination into the darker world of the serial killer.  Mirroring glimpses into the pasts haunting the killer and the cop serve to deepen and intensify an already gripping tale.  Each page and revelation tightens the screws holding them both hostage, and it’s up for grabs who will break first here.

As good and compelling as Charlton’s storytelling is, it’s artist David Hollenbach who looks to have grabbed control with this issue.  Moving from the moody, shrill blacks and whites traditionally associated with the noir genre, he opens it up with jarring yellows that scream a warning with every appearance and reds, ochers, and blues that hint at Drake’s slowly loosening grip on his control of the case and possibly his own sanity.  In a swift and unsettling reversal, blacks and greys have come to symbolize the dull reality of days, while other colors come to life in the terrifying playground of night, culminating in one of the most bloodlessly chilling closing pages I’ve seen.

If you like your noir dark, gritty, and wounded and aren’t afraid to follow the bloody footprints Charlton and Hollenbach are laying down, pick up the first two issues.  Then, reward yourself with this one.  You’re gonna need it for what could happen next!

“It all comes rushing back, like a kick to the head . . . Women . . . It’s not enough to rip out your heart.  They want to show it to you.”

Verdict:        FIVE Vintage Black Mask Anthologies Out of Five

Tony Caballero, Fanbase Press Contributor



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