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Hawaiian Dick #2 By Matt Martin
Image Comics Ė B. Clay Moore (w); Steven Griffin (a)
If thereís one unmistakable theme common to crime fiction (this time embodied by the works of Raymond Chandler, generally considered the master of the genre), itís that nothing in a story happens without a reason. Even the most trivial details or extraneous supporting characters serve some purpose. B. Clay Moore continues that tradition in this creator-owned mini-series, as his shamus, Byrd, navigates a labyrinth of underworld bosses, mysticism, murder and the vengeful spirits of long-dead warriors.
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Byrd is hired to track down Leila Rose, the missing girlfriend of the islandís infamous moss boss, Bishop Masaki. Byrd accepts the job, but thereís a bit of a problem: heís already found her and sheís dead. In addition to this complication, Byrd is still trying to reconcile what he has seen the night before (the appearance of the Night Marchers, a tribe of spectral warriors who take vengeance on the guilty) and what he had previously held to be the nature of reality. Factor in the appearance of a venerable female kahuna, Madame Chan, and youíve got the makings of one hell of a final issue next month. Things are going to come to a head very shortly and I have a feeling that they arenít going to be pretty.
Steven Griffin has a style that is perfectly suited to this book and its tone, a clean, easy-to-follow manner, but with a coloring scheme that is reminiscent of Tim Sale, an ink-washed or water-colored look. It evokes the mood perfectly, as Hawaii is shown to be a sunny, up-tempo place by day, but full of sinister and mysterious tradition after sunset.
Moore, to his credit, writes every character convincingly. Byrd is a nice stand-in for Phillip Marlowe (Raymond Chandlerís protagonist) and as Marlowe always had a friend somewhere in the Los Angeles Police Department, so does Byrd. Byrd and Mo, his flatfoot friend, make their way through a colorful supporting cast thatís highlighted by the appearance of Bishop Masaki, a devilish man with a slight build but an imposing wit and personality, practically oozing menace. I mean, take a look at the cover, for Godís sake. That guy is scary as hell.
In the end, itís a nice riff on Chandlerís stories, moving the private dick from his traditional stomping grounds in the Los Angeles area of the 1950s and setting up his shop in Hawaii of the same time period. Superficially, very little changes, as youíre moving from one sunny locale to another. However, Hawaiian folkloreís emphasis on the spirit world is a welcome change, one thatís played to full effect by Moore. In any case, Hawaiian Dick has been a real standout effort from both Image and Moore and hereís hoping it warrants its own regular series or, at the very least, another mini.