Falls The Gotham Rain
Comico The Comic Company (August, 1992)
WRITER: Devin O’Leary
ARTIST/CREATOR: Jason Waskey (or at least he own the copyright)
LETTERER: Susan Dorne
Private detective Vincent Dressler is hired by Mona Fatale to track down her cousin, whose gone missing. He eventually tracks her to a strip club where her friend works and learns Fatale is not her cousin but her boss…as a prostitute. Dressler runs afoul of the “Bulls”, a group of rather vicious and corrupt cops, who warn him off the case, which turns out to be a trick because Fatale and her brother (although incest is heavily implied), the new mayor who got in through murder and she has the evidence to prove it. The Bulls kills both girls during the case and later Dressler, but he manages to kill the mayor and the madame before the Bulls gun him down, his last sight being the billboards promoting getting away. For Dressler, he’s found the only way to escape the city is death.
What they got right: The black and white (with the occasional red on the billboards to highlight Dressler’s desire to leave the city and his blood showing the only way to do so) makes for a great noir atmosphere. Likenesses of actors known for this genre (I recognized Peter Lorre as the mayor, Ingrid Bergman as his sister-lover, and Alfred Hitchcock as the guy working in the diner) show up within legal limits and it adds to the feel. The case itself has the twists you’d expect but I didn’t see what the final surprise was coming. I mean, I figured out the mayor would be dirty, but actually running the brothel and being his lover (the kid even calls them mommy and daddy) I was not expecting.
What they got wrong: Longtime readers know how I feel about the painted art style, and while it does help with the atmosphere and is one of the least offensive of painted style comics I’ve reviewed there are still panels that have a sort of uncanny valley look to them. The story is also a bit short, with panel layouts more suited to minicomics than a full-sized 48 page graphic novel. I’m also put off by the incest angle and that kid is going to be seriously messed up when he grows up.
Recommendation: I’ve tried to be as unbiased as I could on the technical side because it is a pretty decent, if too short, story. I’ve never really been into the noir genre, but it looks pretty good to me. If this is your genre maybe give it a try.