Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Noir Comic Week: Area 10

For Day 3 of super noir fun time comic happy hour, we're reviewing Area 10 by Christos Gage and Chris Samnee!

Detective Adam Kamen is searching for a serial killer nicknamed Henry the 8th when he has a near death incident: A perp drives a screwdriver through his forehead. Six weeks later, he's all healed up and the killer resurfaces, but Adam has noticed some strange things. He'll uncover a terrifying conspiracy – all coming from the hole in his head.

Area 10 is a really weird book. In a good way! It's got a lot in common with sci-fi thrillers: dealing with a weird conspiracy, an ancient cult that's obsessed with getting special powers, and powers that come from drilling holes in their foreheads. But it's also fun twisty, turn-y thriller that keeps you guessing the whole time: who IS the killer? Is it someone close to Adam? Is it Adam himself? And unlike a lot of crime thrillers, it manages to stick the landing. The ending is very satisfying.

This tale is par for the course as far as diversity goes. Main hero is a straight white guy. He has problems with his estranged wife and romantic dealings with the main female character, but it manages not to feel as strained as it could have been. He's not overly annoying as the straight white hero. Most of the story is concerned with finding the killer and figuring out the conspiracy rather than dealing with his white guy problems. The girl does wind up as damsel in distress and it's not as racially diverse as I'd like, so those are still two fouls in my point-keeping.

The art by Samnee is gorgeous. It's one of the few books in the series that's completely black and white, and it would up with some really well-designed pages. And because of its sci-fi origins, Samnee gets to play with some contrasting black and white effects. There's one scene in particular where Adam fights with the killer in the subway, but because of the killer's special powers, Adam only sees him as a completely white figure, and it's expertly done.

It's a well-crafted and well-paced story that makes you want to rush through until you've found finally solved the mystery. It's not as diverse or forward thinking as I'd like it to be, but it's a great story and a well-done noir.

THE GOOD: Great art, great story, twisting turning plot that keeps you guessing, cool sci-fi premise, good ending.

THE BAD: Not a diverse cast, damsel in distress.

THE VERDICT: $$$$ It's a pretty great story! One of the better noir books in the series. A really strange tale and a gripping thriller all in one beautifully dramatic package.

BOOKS LIKE IT: Tumor, Dark Entries, Nevermen, Un-Men

ONE-PAGE METAPHOR: Adam stops a robbery from happening when he sees a vision of the clerk dead. How did he do it? What's happening to him?

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