by Carl R. Jansson
Hired by Gustav Argus to steal the Moon Stone from a New York museum, The Black Sparrow decides she wants to hold out for a better offer. But when Argus steals the stone back, The Black Sparrow contacts The Shadow for help in retrieving it. But who is the third player behind the scenes trying to get their hands on the Moon Stone?
Noir #1 (of 5) starts off our story with plenty of thievery, double-crosses, bad girls, and murder, and while thematically sharing much with what we have come to know as noir stories, it doesn’t add much to them, or these character’s worlds. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely enjoyed this first chapter, even while realizing it wasn’t anything new or spectacularly original, just fun escapism. And isn’t that what we want from a comic?
The story by Victor Gischler is an entertaining, well plotted, briskly paced crime thriller, that just happens to star a couple of pulp heroes, and quite a few noir cliches. Gischler’s dialog is as realistic as ever, well, as realistic as it can be in this type of story, but it feels natural, not exaggerated, his characters speak as real people. Like I mentioned earlier, his pacing is lively, nimbly dancing from beat to beat, as it has to be when dealing with this many lead characters and their stories. And while not wholly original, he does throw in a few clever bits that keep it from being stale.
There wasn’t a ton of action, with Gischler taking his time letting us in on how we got where we are, and setting us up for what is yet to come, using The Black Sparrow as a sort of narrator, but the few action scenes broke up the quieter moments at the perfect times, keeping the story moving along. The interplay between our two main protagonists was wonderful though, as Gischler gives them a believable history through their, oftentimes flirty, banter.
Andrea Mutti is a very capable, yet unpolished artist, and his style splendidly complements Gischler’s story. He excels in those more intimate moments, as his characters give great performances with due to his ability for diversity in facial expressions, but he’s no slouch when it comes to the action either, with fists and bullets just flying off the page. I felt the color work of Vladimir Popov was wholly unsuited to the story’s noir styling, being far too bright a palette for a type of story whose name literally means “black”.
Over all this issue, while not breaking any new ground, was a very fun endeavor, and I’ll be back next issue to see if it gets better.