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Damned By Alexander Ness
Writer: Steven Grant; Artist: Mike Zeck; Inker: Denis Rodier; Colors: Kurt Goldzung 112 pages, Full color, Crime, $19.95 Diamond Order Code: JUN03 2224
Crime fiction follows the events of a character hero or felon in a twisted tale. Crime Noir often portrays the events in the life of a hunted man or the events in the life of a crime hunter and the twists and turns of the investigation. Add liberal doses of shadows and violence, mix in strippers and neon, and you get a story that has impact, and when done right you have a window to the scenes of hell on earth. With Crime Noir environment is a character in the story, whether the reader sees it or just absorbs it. Prior comics in this vein include MS TREE by Max Collins, SIN CITY by Frank Miller, and POWERS, JINX and TORSO by Brian Michael Bendis (and Mike Oeming on Powers). This book approaches crime noir, but is closer to crime fiction. The setting here is important, but far less than that of the main character and his situation.
Mick Thorne is the quintessential loner. In prison he did his time, did what was needed to get through the time, and only fought or dealt with trouble when it invaded his space. When he left prison his sole goal was to deliver a message to a sister and return to a life less troubled. A parole officer makes his life hell, the sister is mixed up with bad folks and continuous problems spring up regarding the grip of his past. That is whatever he is doing to go right, it is closer and closer to impossible. His troubles occur when he becomes in-between a gang boss, various flunkies, the sister and greed. I won't reveal any plot turns because I promise that it is better for you to go into the story with eyes open and being uninformed.
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This work delivers a powerful blast of knuckles across your chin. Mick is not hard to like and you do empathize with him, but in the end you just wish that the loner would win and run like hell. The width and breadth of this story is such that you really do not want another chapter, as the twists and turns are enough for one person's life. I found the writing, including the new ending to be elegant and wholly professional. Grant didn't resort to vulgar dialogue to create mood. A prison full of inmates and a story full of felons could be filled with profanity, but it instead was aimed at moving the story forward. Without question Grant can write, and as in his Punisher stories at Marvel, he can write crime well.
The art is masterful and a rather stunning turn for Mike Zeck. It echoes Milt Canniff and Alex Toth at their best and makes the story many times better. The collection has many added features over the original 1997 series and I loved the new ending, although the old one had its charm. Cyberosia, the book's publisher, did an excellent job making this book worth reading all over again. If you did not read the original series, I recommend this 100%. If you did read the original series I recommend the series only slightly less so, the extras are well worth the price.
Final Grade: 3.5/4 Points off only for owners of the series in single issues