Writer: Kelly Bender
Artist: Nathan Kelly
Colorist: Josh Jensen
Letterer: Micah Myers
SNARL is the story of Detectives Bevil and Sagun and their peculiar case involving a string of grisly (and potentially supernatural) local murders. The bodies begin the pile up while clues point only in irrational directions. The city administration levies their pressure against the duo, themselves nervous that the incidents might garner national publicity. It takes a lucky break and a bit of thinking that goes well outside of the box to uncover the truth of what is hunting in the Olympia National Park.
Did you read that synopsis? Stories do not get more detective noir than that without the case being presented to the main characters by a beautiful and mysterious woman. This story is far from groundbreaking, but it is creative and it does tick all the boxes for an enjoyable mystery read. The interactions between characters are believable (and appropriately sardonic), and the tension really comes through when reading. Sure, some of the Native American lore invoked in SNARL is somewhat less than… correct –politically or otherwise. (There’s more than one Native American tribe and belief system. Who knew?) But unless you love Wikipedia-ing every single new word you find as much as I do, you’re likely to be unaware of the discrepancies in folklore.
The art style for the comic is exaggerated, dark, and appropriate. The shadows are heavy and something about the panels creates a distance between yourself and the characters, adding to their inherent “unknowable” persona. That said, as “appropriate” as the art is, it isn’t the best in the world. The style is not so bad that it ruins the title by any means, but anytime a reader pauses in the middle of a panel to frown at the quality of an image, there has been a fundamental shortcoming in the comic’s art.
I would recommend SNARL to anyone who is a fan of mystery, detective titles, or classic noir. It’s certainly not the best at anything that it does, but it is in the race and its shortcomings are not so great that I could give it a bad review. This is the sort of comic that performs best as a slow burn, and I would be interested in seeing any future adventures of these characters.