Rebirth of the Gangster is the story of the Thompson and Hunter families. Families comprised of criminals. Back when I read issue #1, it seemed like there was more good than bad in the characters, their criminal pasts long behind them as they sought to uphold the law and ran fundraisers. Like the show Breaking Bad, which Rebirth is often compared to, it’s becoming clear that the heroes and the seemingly innocent may, in fact, be the story’s villains.
Issue #4 starts off with a bang as we dive into a completely unexpected backstory: Andrea Thompson’s, mild-mannered Marcus’s mother. To date, Rebirth has focused on the male characters: the sins of fathers and their sons. As it turns out, Papa Thompson has nothing on Mama. Let’s just say Andrea is not the sort of woman you want to run into in a dark alley. Having a female mastermind is a subversion of power dynamics and expectations I adore, and possibly leads to my favorite character of the series and likely the most bada**. Rebirth of the Gangster also gives us some LGBTQ representation by confirming that Detective Lorena Sanchez is a lesbian. Alas, the same-sex relationship dynamics doesn’t make it any easier for a cop to juggle their cases and their relationship. This leads to a dynamic anyone who has ever seen a cop show is familiar with, and it still works.
The latest issue of the series continues to repeat the flaws of those that preceded it. There are far too many snippets of character stories in a given issue, with issue #4 covering five different characters’ perspectives and a set of flashbacks in its 22 pages. While this makes the series a difficult read on a month-to-month basis, it will make for a beautiful binge-reading experience when read back to back. The flashbacks are apparent only through the lack of borders on some pages. Lastly, the lettering makes some serious missteps, as far as word balloon shape and placement go, that distract from the story, but aren’t enough to break it.
More than making up for the flaws, artist Juan Romera draws a beautiful, black-and-white noir style that blends the modern day with classic crime stories of old. Writer C.J. Standal is slowly unfolding a criminal legacy spanning generations, with every new issue bringing a few new surprises both in the past and the present. So many characters have been set in motion that the series reads like a mystery, as each character’s motive and actions have to be taken into account to predict what will happen next. And every surprise makes me want to flip to the next page, and then the next issue, just to see what new gem Standal has in store for readers.
Rebirth of the Gangster #4 is now available for sale in the Kindle store along with issues #1-#3.
4 “Permanent Vacations” out of 5