I grew up in the tradition of nice Arthur Conan Doyle stories and the Sherlock Holmes mythos.
I had fun with Arsène Lupin and the Countess of Cagliostro and Raffles and Rocambole.
But, now that I think of it, I am not really a big fan of most of the modern crime comics I've read... the usual crime story opening, stuff like: "The night's as hot as hell. It's a lousy room in a lousy part of a lousy town - I'm staring at a goddess. She's telling me she wants me. I'm not going to waste one more minute wondering how I've gotten this lucky" might bore me, unless the artwork is virtuoso enough. I enjoyed Frank Miller's SIN CITY, but some of that dialog, being read aloud, sounds somewhat silly. The stories are entertaining, true, but there is not much depth involved.
And probably that's why crime comics are considered "inferior" to crime prose novels. However, there is one notable exception: KICKBACK, written and drawn by David Lloyd, creator of V FOR VENDETTA!
The first words drift far away from the usual beginnings of a crime comic. And that's good. No lousy rooms, no lousy parts of a lousy town, just a talk about a dream: "Okay. I will tell you about it. I'm in a dark warehouse... at least., that's what it feels like... there's ironwork -- spears of metal -- all around me... I'm on a catwalk that's too narrow to turn around on, so I start to make my way along it in the direction I'm facing... ahead of me, it seems to grow narrower... I can't see to the end of it... then, as I move along it, I see someone coming towards me... I try to make out who it is, but there's a kind of mist...". I thought it was a great way to begin a crime novel. With the description of a dream that is also an essential part of the story in many ways.
First, because this dream is like a metaphor of what the protagonist is going through. Joe Canelli feels he is going in one direction, but would that be the correct one? The pathway offers no other choices, in his dream, it is too narrow. After all, the protagonist of KICKBACK is a corrupt policeman - because everyone else is corrupt... but to say that KICKBACK is a story about a corrupt cop in a corrupt city would be an understatement, because the story is much more complex and interesting than that.
In the beginning of this review, I said that I was not a big fan of crime comics, because many times they feel hollow and clichéd (even when virtuously drawn) - but KICKBACK is different, it is not only a crime comic, it is a complex story, about guilt, about dreams, about progress, about corruption. And that is curious, because in a way, has some parallells with V FOR VENDETTA - regarding corruption, even if we are talking about a different kind of corruption.
There is much more going on in KICKBACK and I do not want to talk too much about some of those layers, to avoid spoiling part of the relevant content of the book. However, it is a great story that offers us lots of food for thought: about listening to our conscience, about the value of old people's wisdom, about doing what everyone else does - all wrapped up in a nice mystery with lots of action drawn in the magnificently detailed style David Lloyd did in V FOR VENDETTA, but with digital improvements this time.
So, to conclude this small review, the world of KICKBACK feels like a believable place, where not everything (or everyone) is black and white and each character feels like a real, complex person. This is not your usual crime comic. This is a crime comic suitable for a thinking man, as rich and deep and entertaining and complex as any prose novel. I've always been a fan of David Lloyd, and this work, drawn and written by him is a worthy addition to the collection of anyone - comic collector, demanding reader or crime novels aficionado. An Unmissable Book, without a doubt!