With Matt Kindt’s first graphic novel from his burgeoning imprint Flux House (Dark Horse), we’re once again in the realms of noirish detective work – a genre Kindt loves and that I love him for.
Our central character, Mister Mammoth, is a big guy—bigger than that other pulp graphic novel “M” character (Marv from Sin City). I wonder if there’s a letter correlation that can be traced back to the classic Fritz Lang film, M . . . Anyway, Mammoth wears the fedora and trench coat, like so many classic noir detectives and characters wear (e.g., the hitman in Le Samourai, the forlorn, aged detective in the semi-futuristic Alphaville, the killer in M, Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade). Come to think of it, Harrison Ford looked great in a trench coat and a fedora (separately). What happened, Blade Runner?
I digress. It’s not only the outfit and the fact that Mammoth works behind a desk and a glass door, but the artist Jean-Denis Pendanx saturates the imagery with beautiful noir, noir, noir. Visually speaking, this is a noir landscape, some of which is deeply rooted in that German Expressionism vibe. And I love it. The rest of this, though, I’ll come back to…
Like with most of his projects, Kindt finds a way to turn the genre on its head. You see, Mammoth is the greatest detective of all time; much is made of this. And he’s hired for a job that is not what he thinks it is… or is it not what the reader thinks it is? But it’s not just the story that spins so delicately across this intricate spider’s web. While the noir as German Expressionism is there visually, the tone of the writing and general flow, style of dialogue, and the rest of the visual palettes feel more like a neo-noir, like Chinatown, or moments of the hyper realism like in Hitchock’s Vertigo, and there are moments of bleak noir science fiction like Dark City. This book is a tasty noir stew that’s very much about taking control of our destiny and, just as a lot of noir is, how perception can be the greatest tool of all.
More than anything, if this is the promise of Flux House’s future work, I can’t see how I wouldn’t be on board.
It’s been about an hour since I finished reading Mister Mammoth, and I just had a really big “OH!” moment about the story. “If this thing were true . . . then that’s also true!” (I didn’t even know it needed to be true!) Not many writers work with the skillful cleverness to pull one over on me, but Kindt did (for only an hour, I swear!).
Creative Team: Matt Kind (writer), Jean-Denis Pendanx (artist), Jim Campbell (letters), Daniel Chabon (editor), Chuck Howitt-Lease and Michas Gehr (assistant editor), Patrick Satterfield (designs), Allyson Haller (digital art technician)
Publisher: Flux House, Dark Horse Books
Click here to purchase.