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Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Ripper Legacy. Jim Alexander (Writer), Mark Bloodworth (Art) Claiber (2014)

A suitably gruesome, rather thoughtful and very engaging excursion into a crowded field, the Jack the Ripper murders in London in 1888. In present day Boston (2008) a series of murders that match the details of the Ripper murders from 1888 are committed and a different suspect has been arrested for each one. The suspects all have knowledge of the murder that the public could not know, still there are very awkward questions regarding the suspects. The Raven Group, lead by ex-FBI Special Agent, Adam Busura are called in to  assist with the investigation. With another murder and a new suspect caught at the scene the story takes an interesting turn as unexpected links are revealed and the full meaning of the Ripper Legacy are revealed. The climax is nicely unexpected and still true to the central idea.
Jack the Ripper, the first serious celebrity serial killer presents a significant problem to any writer, he carries such an accumulation of cultural luggage that he presses down on any story like a gravestone. Jim Alexander makes some bold story choices that both embrace that dead weight and then use it to shift the focus to another direction. Jack is still Saucy Jack, drawing attention to himself as the charismatic destroyer of women, he is not the central character, that is played by an idea and it is the way that idea mixes up with the rest of the cast that gives the book its edge. The rest of the cast are what drives the book, they may be standing in the shadow cast by Jack, they still make an impression on their own merits. The plot gives everyone a chance to be seen and heard and the cast seize their moments.
The art by Mark Bloodworth is horribly vivid and looses nothing by being uncoloured, not black and white, his mastery of tones is much more subtle than that. The cast are nicely drawn and very expressive and individual, the best part about it is that it is not overwhelmed by the slightly overwritten script. It would have been easy to show and tell, instead Mark Bloodworth finds spaces inside the script for the art to fill so that it draws out the ideas and explores them rather than repeating them.
This is a happily surprising book, the thoughtful way that Jim Alexander confronts the weight of cliche that Jack the Ripper inevitably brings with him and anticipates and manages readers expectations is great. The art follows by seeming to initially relish the gore before proving to have a deep sympathy for the complicated lives of the living.
Chief Wizard Note: This is a review copy kindly sent to me by Jim Alexander. The Ripper Legacy is available as a download from Drivethru, http://comics.drivethrustuff.com/product/129746?src=newsletterDTCRight051414, and will be available on Amazon soon.

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