Monday, August 18, 2014

Noir Comic Week: Dark Entries

I recently discovered the Vertigo Crime book series! So, to celebrate, I'm having a NOIR COMIC WEEK VERTIGO CRIME GRAPHIC MYSTERY EXTRAVAGANZA! Or something. Five noir reviews in five days! First up, Dark Entries by Ian Rankin and Werther Dell'edra!

"Haunted Mansion", a hit new reality TV show in which contestants are trapped in a house where they're subjected to scares, suddenly goes off the rails when contestants encounter things the TV crew didn't set up. The producer calls occult detective John Constantine to investigate, but the only way to find out what's happening is if he becomes a contestant himself!

This seems like a cheat since we're working with an already established-character instead of someone completely new and self-contained, but it's just so good I had to include it. Subsequently, this is the first book in the "Vertigo Crime" series I tried, and also my first Constantine story. I can't say how well it holds up to Hellblazer, but I can say this is an excellent noir comic.

The first thing that drew me to it is Dell'edera's incredible art. The inking has this rough messy style with plenty of blacks to give a great noir feeling. It's almost exclusively black and white with plenty of dramatic contrast. It's really beautiful, lively stuff. The monsters and demons are also really well-designed and appropriately creepy. What's really cool is when you look at the side of the book, halfway through the story, right when you find out what's happening, the pages all go from white gutters to full black bleeds. It's an incredible design, and really fits with the story. 

Speaking of the story, the plot is filled with twists and turns. It's more of a noir-horror, with all the creepy things popping up in the haunted house. It's interesting seeing the contestants confronted with their greatest fears and how their personal stories unfold. It gets really wild. It's a book that makes you want to know what the hell is going on and then completely delivers on the premise. And it's got a pretty diverse cast of men and women, which is wonderful. The dialogue is well-written, with plenty of quips and cracks, and the characters are all interesting. It's also really fun if you like reality TV contest shows, or at least like making fun of them.

John Constantine fits well in the noir world. He's gruff and moody, he wears a trench-coat and smokes, he's a drunken wash-up who needs cash, and he narrates his own adventures. And it's nice to get a bisexual character as the main noir detective. That doesn't really come through in the story, but I’ll be dammed if I'm not gonna count it!

Dark Entries is one of the best stories in the Vertigo Crime series. If you like John Constantine or you like some horror with your noir, you'll enjoy this!

THE GOOD: Great art, great writing, funny, creepy monster designs, good story, good graphic style, keeps you guessing, good ending.

THE BAD: Not for people who like horror stuff I guess?

THE VERDICT: $$$$$ If you're looking for one of these to try, especially if you're already a Constantine fan, you can't go wrong with this. It's a fun story with a fantastic art style.

BOOKS LIEK IT: Hellblazer, Mysterious the Unfathomable, Hellcity, The Damned, Black Cherry

ONE-PAGE METAPHOR: When the producer comes to recruit Constantine for the job, he's appropriately sleazy and Constantine knows there's something creepy about him, but Constantine can't pass up the much-needed money. Some quips and jabs later and Constantine is in for the long haul.

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