Now, I’m going to clue you guys in on a little something. Ed Brubaker is a pretty good crime writer. I know, shocking that the guy who wrote Captain America for all those years would be so good at this, but I’m serious. His crime books are actually better than his super-hero comics.
Seriously though, reading this trade made me quite happy. I know how good Brubaker is at crime, and I know that’s where his passion lies. I’m actually OK with him bowing out of the Marvel U for awhile if it means we get more books like this, Incognito, and Criminal.
This star of this one is Jack Herriman, a surprisingly straight-up protagonist. He certainly meets many of the expected noir stereotypes; upsetting past, ladies man, and many connections to the local police. But unlike most private detectives, Jack has family living downstairs, and multiple friends who actually come when they’re needed. I don’t think it is spoiling anything to say that everyone doesn’t end up being “in it” or betraying our lead. Sure, the story is tragic and upsetting, but only the villains are actually trying to ignore it.
A standard missing person case leads to old crimes, hippies, drug dealers, and routine beatings, just like any good detective story should. This is definitely an adult story, although that’s mostly expressed through dialogue rather than through Michael Lark’s perfect artwork.
Lark is a joy to behold as he creates and populates Jack’s world. There are keys on the wall of the hotel, there is salt on the plate with the fries. I never realized quite how important those little details are until I started paying attention to how real this world felt. Lark’s work brings this to light. Like much of Vertigo’s finer collections, this thing is begging to be made into a movie.