It’s often a bold decision to combine two wildly different genres but Russell Mark Olson has managed to successfully intertwine noir with good old fashioned sci-fi. Gateway City is the bees knees filled with murder, mystery, and crooks; both human and alien!
Set during the Prohibition Era, the story follows detective Lundy as he undergoes what he believes to be a standard investigation involving illegal booze and notorious gang leaders. But it doesn’t take long to discover that this more than just a smuggling operation and that there are other species at play here. Much like St. Louis being one of the centers for illegal human activity, it has now become a center for illegal alien activity as well! And there are just as many interplanetary crooks as there are native crooks.
Russell Mark Olson has crafted a story that truly speaks to the 1920s and the soul of St. Louis at the time. You can feel the love that has been poured into the research and dedication of this rich culture. Before the aliens manage to take center stage, Gateway City truly feels like a period piece. It’s a classic noir and those who love the genre will surely fall in love with this story. The fact that there is an additional element of sci-fi is merely a bonus. For the most part, the genres compliment each other well.
Being a sci-fi piece, the artwork is also very lively. The alien creatures all feel unique both to one another and to other well known sci-fi stories. They also blend very well with the noir theme. The main alien antagonist, the brains behind the operation, has a character design that reeks of the 1920s. Additionally, in such a typically grim story structure, the addition of aliens adds a splash of color, both artistically and from a story telling perspective.
There are also a lot of very unique, colorful characters representing both sides. Even characters that don’t have many speaking lines can shine through with their designs and personality. Some characters appear to take over entire panels with their presence and others play off one another very well. Without giving too much away, there is a talking bear at one point and this bear can steal the show sometimes.
If you enjoy 1920s storytelling, this is definitely something you will want to look into. It truly is a unique combination of various genres that provide an experience that cannot be fully described. You simply have to read it for yourself. We certainly hope the story will continue with these characters and we can’t wait to see what sort of other crazy adventures they get into.
Gateway Vol. I is a paperback collection of the first four issues of the series with extra scenes, edits by John Freeman, and a foreword by Roy Thomas. It will be debuting at Thought Bubble Festival on September 23rd after a successful campaign on Kickstarter. If you get the chance to attend, share with us in the comments below or send us your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter!