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Monday, December 3, 2012

Blue Estate: Preserves. Viktor Kalvachev, Kosta Yanev (Story), Andrew Osborne (Script), Viktor Kalvachev, Toby Cypress, Nathan Fox, Robert Valley, Paul Maybury (Art) Image Comics (2011)

A well cast and sharply nasty slice of noir that does not quite land the punch it should. Starting with a classic opening in a private detective's office the story quickly moves to flashback as the set up is explored. The wide ranging cast of thieves and mobsters is introduced and the pieces are put into place. This is also the slight problem that the book has, this volume is all set up, there is no follow through yet. It is hard therefore to assess the relative significance of the various threads and cast members who are introduced and how they will double-cross and be double-crossed in turn.
One of the very significant strenghts of the writing is that the cast, who all could easily be noir cliches, are in fact pulsing with a vivid, dark life, they have a desperate greed for something about them that means that they are all always  on the make or take. There is no peace among this cast, just a bare tolerance or lust and very few are quite what they want to pass themselves off as. The only ones who are confident enough to be up front are the powerful, the gangster bosses and the police, the rest of the cast are trying to find a route to power and money for themselves.
The art is great, spiky and sharp, it captures the jagged tones of the story with great force. The cast have a nicely feral look to them, except for the soft and round look of the private eye, the very image of a prey animal surrounded by restless predators. The colours are used very well to support the atmosphere of the episodes, the seething pulse of greed that that drenches the book.
The various episodes in the story that introduce the cast and reveal the initial story threads are very well done, there is no wasted time or motion, the tone is bleak and violent. The lack of solid story mechanics means that this is a somewhat unsubstantial read on its own,if the follow on matches the dark promise of the set up then it will gain weight and force.

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