The tangled web of lies, deceit and sex continues to draw in all parties involved in this Hard Case Crime book from Titan Comics. There is a video (who uses videos nowadays?), showing the identity of the Central Park Slayer. The tape ends of in the hands of “tart with a heart” Roxy Bell, who unwittingly attracts more people into the already sticky web. Chasing the tape is, of curse, the big bad and a couple of no good cops, intent of pinning the crimes on a patsy.
This issues continues to show the destructive nature of people in power, whether it be the big bad or the cops, there doesn’t seem to be a redeeming characters, save for the strippers at the Deuce club. With that said, Roxy isn’t afraid to step into the darker side of the club and sexuality to get what she wants.
Wring duo Christa Faust and Gary Phillips write in a compelling, if at times, unnerving manner. The book has its fair share of sexual situations, violence and derogatory language and settings. At times, it is a dark journey into what people who are not us have to deal with. I would imagine very few, if not any, girls decide they want to a stripper or work in the sex trade, instead falling into it as means to an end. Once there, it’s about keeping your head above the filth line. The sex element of this book is just another version of the reality that the characters need to live in following their life choices. This is no more evident than in the tour of the neighbourhood during Christmas and the poignant panels that accompany the song, White Christmas. Dialogue wise, there is some stuff in there that I find offensive, but that is the point: You are supposed to find a lot of these characters offensive.
Andrea Camerini provides the artwork for the book. Camerini’s work is something of a revelation to be sure. There is a smooth flowing lines abound with a fearlessness when it comes to the seedier side of the story. Another strength is the work on the faces, which show a high level of emotions throughout. This is essential as the story does have an emotional impact throughout, whether it be the snarling big bad or the concerned mother hightailing it to the police station to save her son. I can honestly say, I don’t think I have been as impressed by an artist in quite some time. Camerini is helped out by colorist Marco Lesko whose work here is sublime. There is just the right mix of bold colors and shading to allow the impression of the darkness seeping in and affecting all the characters in the book. I don’t normally mention letterer’s on my reviews, but a special nod has to go to Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt whose work makes the text easy on the eye as well as adding effective emphasis when required.
Titan Comics may be seen as a small publisher when it comes to single issue books, but their recent record shows that they embrace the four corners of comic producing world, not content to fall into just one genre. Regardless of personal preference of the stories within, Titan always put together high quality books. On this occasion, the quality story surpasses their already high production values.
Writing – 5 Stars
Art – 5 Stars
Colors – 5 Stars
Lettering – 5 Stars