Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Kane - Greetings from New Eden - A Review

Image Comics

119 pages


Superheroes are by far the dominant genre in the comic book marketplace. Nothing else really comes close, but the nearest thing to it is probably crime. Think of any major comics creator, and with a few exceptions, they either made their name on (or have dabbled in) crime comics. Brian Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Jason Aaron, Greg Rucka, Matt Wagner, Warren Ellis, the list could go on and on. However, one of the best crime comics ever published is by a relatively obscure British author/artist named Paul Grist.

Set in the imaginary city of New Eden, Greetings from New Eden introduces us to Detective Kane, a police officer who has returned six months after he was forced to kill his crooked partner. Unfortunately for Kane, the evidence implicating his partner disappeared and the entire precinct is none to happy to see him. The only cop that Kane can count on backing him up is his new partner Kate, a second generation cop and rookie detective eager to prove herself.

What makes Kane such an amazing book is Grist’s art. While virtually all crime comics traffic in the tropes and techniques of film noir, Grist’s art is perfectly suited towards it. Grist is perhaps better known for his work on the indie superhero comic Jack Staff. While undeniably a fun book, I have always thought that Grist was much more suited for a crime book like Kane. His stark figures and use of shadow make a perfect use of the book’s black and white printing and immediately evoke the hard boiled feel of classic film noir films like the Third Man or the Maltese Falcon.

Grist is also a master storyteller. He uses every trick in the book to create some of the most innovative page layouts in comics. Whether its panel structure, sound effects, or negative space, Grist does everything to make each page gorgeous, easy to follow, and unlike anything else you see in comics. The simple fact that Ed Benes is a high profile artist while a draftsman like Paul Grist labors in relative obscurity is crime against man, nature, and Jack Kirby.

Kane is beautiful book to look at, but the story has a lot to offer as well. When you consider that Greetings from New Eden comes in at only 119 pages, its amazing how much story is packed in. The collection covers the first four issues of the series, yet manages to show us Kane’s history with his partner, a hostage crisis, introduce an entire precinct worth of characters, have New Eden’s Mayor chased through the city while handcuffed to a man in a bunny suit named Mr. Flopsy Wopsy (yes, really), a chase for a mad bomber, and give us our first glimpse of New Eden crime lord Oscar Darke. The versatility of the book is amazing, as it ranges from tense to light hearted without ever making you forget you’re in a crime book.

Greetings from New Eden is a fantastic introduction to the world of Kane and some of the best crime comics ever published. Kane is the first of 6 volumes that have been published by Image Comics. In 2001, Grist shifted his attention to the more profitable Jack Staff, saying he would return to Kane as a series of graphic novels. It looked like Kane had fallen by the wayside until last year, when a Kane short story was published as part of Dark Horse’s Noir anthology. It’s good to know that neither a hostile police department nor a hostile comic book industry can keep a good cop down.

1 comment:

  1. "The simple fact that Ed Benes is a high profile artist while a draftsman like Paul Grist labors in relative obscurity is crime against man, nature, and Jack Kirby." - Great line Greg. I read this first trade and would second Greg's opinion.