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Customer Review

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deserving of a place in any reader's collection, 21 Sept. 2002
This review is from: Road to Perdition (Paperback)
Now that Max Collins' original graphic novel has been transformed into Sam Mendes' oscar-favourite movie, one would assume that many of those who appreciated the film might look into its origins and take a gander at this, the story's first birth. Drawn by Richard Piers Rayner, whose devotion to authentic 1930s detail meant it took four years to draw, the novel, like its film counterpart, tells the story of Michael 'O''Sullivan, a hitman living in the Tri-Cities, whose wife and younger son are murdered by his employer's unstable offspring, Connor. Mike and his elder son Michael Jr. go on the run, trying to reach Perdition, Kansas, while the safety of Michael Jr. becomes more and more arduous.
While most of the elements seen in the film are intact, with Tom Hanks deftly (and somewhat surprisingly) carrying the role of the mass-murdering anti-hero, there are key differences. Max Collins based much of his story on actual events in the 1930 Midwest. However, the film removes Elliot Ness, one of O'Sullivan's few allies (who seems pretty handy with a tommy-gun), but adds Jude Law's character Maguire, the rival hitman-cum-journalist.
Max Allan Collins really does tug at the heart-strings in this novel, and the tragic death of Peter, drawn so adoringly by Rayner, is reminiscent of many of the bitter-sweet moments in 'Jimmy Corrigan', while the ensuing butchering of a group of ex-employer John Looney's cronies with a certain sharp, silent object is morbidly satisfying. The father-son story bares comparison to Japan's 'Lone Wolf and Cub' series, as do the two books' beautiful black and white art. 'Road to Perdition' stands on its own two, very American feet.
The depth of contemporary detail, added to the strength of story and its appeal to mature readers aswell as the more easy going, '2000AD' mentality-comic fans puts it above, in my opinion, classics like 'V for Vendetta'. This is a must, not only for graphic regulars, but for the literary community as a whole. Granted, this is no 'Watchmen', and while there are only three or four panels to a page, there are three-hundred of them to get through. And you'll probably find, as I did (for the first time with a graphic novel), that as soon as you finish it, you'll wanted to turn to the front and start again, if only to marvel at the impressive artwork. My only quibble with 'Road to Perdition' was its somewhat sudden, and horribly inevitable ending, although the film does change things, and it is certainly worth checking out both.
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