REVIEW: “Noir” #1

(Dynamite Entertainment, 2013)

Review by Brad Gischia

Written by Victor Gischler
Illustrated by Andrea Mutti
Colored by Vladimir Popov
Lettered by Rob Steen
Cover by Ardian Syaf

The lights are low in the smoky nightclub. A beautiful woman sings breathily into a large microphone, and a couple of toughs muscle a handsome man into a backroom. This is what I picture when I think of the “noir” era of film, though I know there is so much more to it. So when I saw that Dynamite was releasing a book titled Noir, I was excited to get a look at it.

Noir reads like a James Bond story and lives up to the cinematic hype as this five issue series opens. It focuses on a pairing of the classic character The Shadow, and a new Dynamite creation called the Black Sparrow.

Victor Gischler has matched the tone nicely to the title. This book has everything you would hope for in a Noir-themed piece. Heists, mysterious and beautiful women, double crosses, and a good old-fashioned pistol-whipping. Gischler has written Lamont Cranston perfectly. As the playboy, he is smart and flippant, even when facing down a gun, he is cool when confronted with a beautiful woman, especially one who may be interested in killing him, and he is fantastically confident. He is the epitome of the “man in control”. Think Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark in the 40’s.

Pair that character with the Black Sparrow, known to Cranston as Esmerelda. She is a perfect counterpoint to the overtly strong male character. She is exotic and beautiful. Confident in herself she proves to be the mirror image to Cranston, though on the opposite side of the law. She is his equal, if not his better. As a smoke bomb descends in the last pages, he says, “It’s only a second’s distraction. An eternity for someone with her skills.” Black Sparrow, as far as I can tell, is an original character, and is well suited to the book.

The art is wonderful. Andrea Mutti has captured the characters, and paired with Vladimir Popov’s coloring, the book is very nice to look at. There is a nice contrast to the Shadow and Cranston, which is what makes the character unique, and Mutti’s skill is shown in my favorite sequence, one page that shows The Shadow and Black Sparrow getting their “work” clothes on. The only critique I would have would be that I would like to see it in black and white, just to get more of that noir feel.

The story follows the theft of the moonstone, an ancient Native American artifact connected to the Knights Templar. Esmerelda has stolen it, is double-crossed, and looks to the Shadow for help. In the end the Shadow tries to play both sides against each other, and is foiled by the intervention of an unknown person, who turns out to be Miss Fury, another of Dynamite’s rebooted characters from the pulps of the 40’s. Crime, Sex, mysterious women, black markets, guns, double crosses, and a good old fashioned pistol whipping.

Noir takes all of the things you love about the genre and packs them into a comic. There’s no “shadow” of a doubt that Dynamite will “sparrow” no expense on the conclusion of this book. It’s a fun read.


Follow Brad Gischia on Twitter:  @comicwasteland

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