Elegant noir from Boom! Studios
Review covers issues #1-3
Richard Crowsong Davis
Noir and detective stories haven’t been seen much lately. At least, not by mine eyes. Most of what is put out now is a cliche of a stereotype; ‘Maltese Falcon’ rip offs that have been copied and pasted until they’re nothing but grit and smut. Cigarette butts and sticky floors. That’s why ‘Revelation’ from Author Paul Jenkins and artist Humberto Ramos is such a, well, revelation.
The story is a lightly boiled crime/suspension/supernatural mystery that focuses on the hyper-aware senses of Charlie Northern. Charlie is beyond cynical. He’s capable of far more than sardonic. There really isn’t an equal in crime or detective stories that I can compare him to. He’s somewhere between Bruce Willis in the ‘Last Boy Scout’ and Dr. House. He doesn’t like anything but smoking, and of course his desire to smoke more. He is recruited by an old friend, we believe, who has become a cardinal in Vatican city. The vinegary detective Northern joins the hunt for a killer of a vatican priest who happens to be next in line to the ‘throne’ of pope. He seemingly does it for nothing more than an excuse to moan and complain incessantly. He’s truly unique when it comes to Englishmen I’ve met and seen portrayed. He has no problem pissing off other detectives, priests and anyone that crosses his path. He’s damn near likable one moment, and nearly intolerable the next. Exactly who you would want and would expect investigating the famously secret Vatican.
The circumstances with which our victim meets his fate is suspicious at best, and traitorous at its worth. No matter what the cause, something is very wrong in Rome. Charlie Northern’s foul mouth and seeming lack of interest is a nice counter balance to Humberto Ramos’ elegant and picturesque Vatican. The art is the most interesting when it is in the dark corners of a London flat or the halls of the Vatican. Ramos is a deft hand at drawing emotion and evoking it from the landscapes and streets he creates. The dark tone of the story is carried well by Ramos’ art and lets the story breath. The grim content lends itself to melancholy and the art add a filter of innocence to us, or the characters of the story, and doesn’t let the sadness or melancholy settle in.
The only issues I had with the story, through the first 3 installments of the mini-series, is the wordiness and rushed exposition. I understand things must be revealed and long conversations must be had, but the personality of the Detective and the lack of one of his cardinal friend aren’t quite enough to make the first issues compelling. Minor nitpick, truly, as the chase and investigation are the true focus of the story.
This is a nice read, and Detective Northern is gradually growing on me. Or, I’m getting used to him. Used to him like smokers become accustomed to their own cigarette smoke. I’m going to finish off the series and write another review because there is enough here to keep going and suggest it to others. Even though Charlie Northern is grating at times, he is a different type of detective, at least on the surface, and I wold love to see more characters that try to bend their molds. So, no more blabbing and opinions of mine. There are 10 pages of preview here for you to read and decide for yourself. Remember to stop back by and go by my Twitter @rpdgame