The year is 1931, set in Chicago. History buffs will probably recognize this as being set during the Prohibition era… In this case, the contraband is not hooch, but magic. Issue #1 comes with all of the standard fixin’s of a standard crime thriller, but with a magical twist. You get cops with personal demons, Al Capone, mysterious wizards, a pentagram, and, this being Chicago, the Church.
We’re introduced to our main players in this first issue. At the heart of the series are Detective Elliot Ness and his “Untouchables.” There’s the supposed lady-killer, Detective Charlie Drake Wilson. Then, there’s Detective “Pen” Smith who, as far as I can tell so far, dresses pretty snazzily. Det. “Donny” Mayflower is a hardened, old-school cop with a penchant for the drink, and Det. Peter Lombard seems to be 87% of the muscle behind the operation. Despite their strong jawlines and apparent devotion to justice, there may be more than meets the eye when in comes to theses guys. The introductions of these characters cleverly establishes a pulp noir feel to the whole affair, with a bit of post-modern sensibility to the inside jokes.
Christian Ward is onto something here, taking a familiar story and putting a fresh spin on it. Think Gangster Squad meets Hogwarts. It’s pretty damn entertaining. The art by Sami Kivela matches the tone perfectly, though I did have a bit of trouble distinguishing some of the characters at first. Despite the pulpy feel of the book, the colors are sumptuous and the ‘30s have never looked more glamorous. Most intriguing of all is the backup story penned and illustrated by Ward. How it links to the main story remains to be seen, but the sci-fi leanings juxtaposed with the mobster crime story could make for a heady read.
Random editorial notes: There were a couple of small editorial issues that I caught. The first one was in “Pen’s” name; he’s introduced as “Pen” but is called “Penn” later. The second is in the blurb for the next issue, where Elliot’s name is spelled “Eliot.”
Overall, if you’re a fan of pulp noir, I think you’re gonna like this. If you’re a fan of stuff with a magical element to them, I think you should also give this a go. I’m really excited to see where Ward and Kivela take us next.
Creative Team: Christian Ward (writer), Sami Kivela and Christian Ward (artist), Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (letterer)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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