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‘The Black Monday Murders Volume 1:’ Trade Paperback Review

The Black Monday Murders is not only intriguing, it’s downright riveting. It’s what going after Wall Street might look like if handled by Stanley Kubrick or Alan Moore. It’s rife with archaic symbols, occult-like gatherings, and bizarre, ritualistic murders. When dealing with Jonathan Hickman as the writer, something with an esoteric flare is to be expected. Even with his runs on Marvel’s Avengers, well-known commodities became parts of the Illuminati and Futurists, and as unwieldy as the Secret Wars crossover became for Marvel to handle, at its core was a delightful story about politics and the abuse of power and a dictator recreating a world in his own image (something that’s very timely right now.) Wall Street is also very relevant, and Hickman shows no love for them, but those are twists and turns have no desire to simply tell you about.

Now, how do I package the story without giving anything away? Let’s start with a murder. A grisly murder has been committed, and Detective Theodore James Dumas has been called to investigate. Dumas is clever and incredibly intelligent. They even say he has a sort of gift which may or may not be related to his dabbling in voodoo but, one thing he doesn’t have is a complete understanding of what he’s getting himself into. The closer he steps to the fire, Hickman manages to create a greater unease. There are moments of discovery that left me both unsettled, but also admiring in splendor, much like Indiana Jones does when he discovers the resting place of the Arc of the Covenant. While Detective Dumas sets about getting his feet wet in this new world order that closely resembles something akin to the Illuminati – a force behind the workings of existence, behind the machinations of civilization – we are brought into a political struggle between power players that are beyond human comprehension. There is no doubt Dumas will become entangled in this.

With the help of artist Tom Coker and colorist Michael Garland, the characters truly come to life. The tone they create sometimes lingers with the beauty of Bladerunner and other times the grit of Se7en. There are sequences in which the tone of the scene melds so well with the character who controls the scene, who holds the power, that there is a beautiful synchronicity that occurs not seen in many comic books. Some of the character designs and shadow play are downright creepy, and the use of color in general is particularly haunting. It’s incredibly well thought out storytelling on a visual level. Hickman’s dialogue is not only concise, but it flows and has real power. He uses the framework of a case file to get out factual exposition, and other times to send a chill up the spine. Like other great writers (Alan Moore, Matt Kindt), he’s stepping outside the boundary of normal comic book format to create a fuller, richer universe.

Serious props to Rus Wooton on letters who tangles with the archaic language.

For any serious comic book reader, this book is a must. For those that love esoteric horror or occult-laced murder mysteries, or if you need to step away from the run-of-the-mill superhero worlds, you won’t be disappointed.

I think with any visual medium so close to film a soundtrack is important. For this I chose something relatively haunting and eerie to give an undertone to the unease already present in the book. I chose the works of Georgy Ligeti which worked wonderfully.

Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor



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