Comics Features

REVIEW : Detective 1945 #1

Written by Patrick Smith

The setting for this tale is post-war New York, or to be more pertinent, immediately following the conclusion of that global conflict. From the outset, the premise is laced with urgency. There has been a particularly grisly murder, the details of which it’s only fair to leave for a reader to savour. Suffice to say, it leaves an impression not easily forgotten. It certainly rouses Detectives Joseph Roberts and James Jacobs, to eke out a trail of evidence that might assist in pinning down a culprit, before they’re tempted to strike again.

With Roberts and Jacobs’ motives established, we are introduced to the elderly and charming Mrs. Dickson, happily entertaining a neighbour Suzie and her daughter, who have visited for afternoon tea. The civility of this urbane scene is rudely interrupted by a radio broadcast requesting possible witnesses in the locale to come forward, regarding the aforementioned gruesome killing. Is it possible that Mrs. Dickson heard something that night? Should she make that call?

The story, which commences with some vigour, progresses at a brisk and satisfactory pace throughout. Plot developments are utilised to handsomely facilitate a deeper understanding of the key players. Whilst the game is certainly afoot, the opportunities presented to learn why folk do what they do, makes for a much more rewarding reading experience.

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This lively script from Lucy Shaw, is skillfully visualised. The initial entertainment is in seeing a period piece realised with accuracy. However, the art presented within these pages, whilst certainly evocative of say, the fashions of Claire McCardell or the paintings of Norman Rockwell, is definitely no simple pastiche.

There’s a genuine partnership here between the clean lines and precision in the artwork of Daryl S. and Tommie Kelly‘s considered colour palette. While there’s plenty of colour, the hues applied each share the tonal strength that’s displayed in the ‘sepia-toned’ cover illustration. This, along with the clever use of blends and punctuated moments of light and shade, rather smartly establish a distinct visual identity for this book.

I can assure you that this is a tale of dark, twisted slaughter. The artwork builds up the drama as the story unfolds, rendering key moments with some flair until the tension is broken with a crescendo of blood-letting. This is where the ingrained graphic style delivers it’s own deathblow. The images of violence and gore are almost physically jarring, when plied upon such an elegeantly designed, almost reassuring backdrop.

Likewise, an important recalled memory is presented with a heightened drama, in that the exposition of brutal warfare logically executed, contrasts so sharply with the illustrated cosmopolitan domain of New York City.

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Upon the conclusion of this first issue, much knowledge is shared with the reader and whilst one might feel that one has a handle on the key ‘whodunnit’ mystery, I’m quite convinced that there are plenty of twists and turns to come. You certainly won’t walk away from this book feeling short-changed.

As I mentioned at the outset, this is a tale set in the immediate aftermath of World War Two. There’s a reason for that. A willingness to examine the traumas that such events can inflict on poor souls, whether they be on the ‘Front Line’ or back on the ‘Home Front’. But, who says you can’t have some wicked and devilish fun along the way?

The fine creators of this series are launching Detective 1945 #1 at ‘D!CE’, the Dublin International Comics Expo, on September 27th and 28th.

However, I heartily encourage you to cut to the chase and quite simply get your hands on this fine debut issue. The digital copy goes on sale from their Facebook page on 1st October. From that same day you can also order your printed copy, over the counter or mail-order, from Atomic Comics in Belfast, Dublin Comics and Collectables or Big Bang Comics, in that same fair city.

About the author

Patrick Smith