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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Darkest King 1. Tony Scott Astley (Writer), Paul Anderson (Art, Colours & Letters). WP Comics (2017)

A very engaging and enjoyable set up for a noir crime story that delivers the action, context and introductions with confident economy and force. A clever opening sequence introduces Kurt King and hints at past, present and future troubles. Kurt's brother Victor King, clearly much more successful that Kurt gets introduced as does the shape of the plot. Kurt is up to something very bad, Victor may be up to something worse, both share a brutal history and it all gets satisfactorily nasty.
Tony Scott Astley has written a classic noir set up , a damaged man doing ill to do good, with a strong connection to a man who appears to be doing good while possibly doing much worse. The events that bind and separate the brothers are shown and a very satisfactorily grisly climax pushes the action forward. There is a great deal of story in the issue, it never feels crowded or rushed, the voice over is smartly anticipating and commenting on the action. Tony Scott Astley has a willingness to push the action hard and that benefits the story, from the opening the stakes get higher and more complicated, by the end the reader is very nicely set up to plunge into the unforgiving world of Coldwood.
Paul Anderson's art is easy to read and very engaging, the cast are well defined and strongly expressive. They move naturally through their context and have the vital physical weight and presence they need for the story. Kurt and Vincent look like brothers, enough similarity to suggest a relationship, enough differences to make them strongly individual. The art moves comfortably from quiet conversation to brutal action, there is no strain in the change of pace, it flows naturally from one event to the next. The panel layouts are used to control the pasce of the story with skill, the splas pages ear thier slots as dramatic moments and they do not stop the story,  The colouring follows the demands of the story with care, it amplifies the context of the action, the changes are dramatic and hardly noticeable as they fit with the scenes so well. In particular the red lighting for a gunfight frames the action and the intent equally well.
The lettering for the various components, speech and voice over is clearly differentiated without being obtrusive and the sound effects are a pleasure.
A smart set up that gives the reader every reason to look forward to where this story will go and to be pretty sure that Kurt King is only starting to discover just how much trouble he had brought down on himself.
Chief Wizard Note: This is a review copy, very kindly sent by Kim Roberts, to purchase a copy of The Darkest King 1, and you should as really good crime comics are a deep pleasure you should give yourself, it is available from

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