(Northwest Press, 2014)
Writer – Dave Ebersole
Cover, Interior Art, Colors, Letters – Delia Gable
Color Flats by Josh Lester
There’s a stifling office, a lazily spinning ceiling fan, the camera angle is near said fan, its blades cutting through the shot. A man sits at his desk, fedora tilted back on his head, a cigarette hanging from his bottom lip as he touches the buzzer on his desk, “Let her in…”
If you’ve read any detective fiction, seen a film in the last eighty years, this scene is familiar to the point of cliché. Everyone knows what “should” be in a detective story if it is to fit in the genre. And, for the first ten pages of Dash: The Case of the Mysterious Zita Makara, you think it’s another detective story, one with all of the earmarks you’d expect from someone who obviously loves the genre. There’s the setting.
Here it’s not specified, but all signs point to early to a city in the mid-twentieth century. Dash Malone is a man with a past he won’t divulge, with a office he can’t afford, and a secretary who’s lovable snarkiness, although endearing to the reader, is the source of endless annoyance. He’s confident, smart, tough when he needs to be…and gay.
That’s the first loop thrown by Dave Ebersole, who has dropped his character in the midst of a love/crime triangle the likes of which I’ve never seen in a comic book. Malone has just seen his lover murdered, and the one suspect he has is the woman who has just hired him. Said enchantress is Zita Makara, an expert in Egyptian archeology and currently working at the local museum. Where will Dash turn? How can he go on after seeing the one he loved die? Who is responsible? There is a conspiracy that is beginning to be revealed in the second book, one that might involve the undead and the handprints they might leave on the necks of their victims. Who can tell what could be revealed in Issue #3?
Delia Gable has the huge job of doing almost everything else on this book. She’s worked on A Ninja Named Stan and Liberator: Rage Ignition, and now she’s got interior art, cover art, lettering, and colors on this book as well. It’s a full plate, but Delia does an admirable job of keeping track of everything. Her work in the book is fine, but there’s one section that I liked above others, a two-page bit of collage detailing the history of the Ouroboros. (Snake eating it’s own tail.) Perhaps it was the nature of the story seducing me along, or the fact that I love this kind of exposition, but I really like the layout and colors on these couple of pages, and in relation to the rest of the book, they were striking.
Dave Ebersole is writing a detective story. The fact that the main character is gay shouldn’t make a difference, but it is a major part of the overall story, and he wants you to know it. There are numerous references to the way people were (and still are) treated because of their sexual preferences, and the ways that those treatments can affect your life. Dash Malone takes it on the chin, and is a much more hardened man because of it, but Ebersole makes the case in a few pages how debilitating it could be for someone.
Dash: The Mysterious Zita Makara is the story about a gay Private Detective, a mysterious Egyptian woman, a dead antique dealer, and mummies (the walking around kind), but at its heart, it’s a detective story. The rest serves the story to make it more interesting and complex, but if you’re a fan of noir, than Dave Ebersole and Deila Gable have your ticket filled.
Reviewed by Brad Gischia
Name: Brad Gischia
Twitter Account: @comicwasteland
City: Ishpeming, MI
Brad Gischia is a writer and artist living in the frozen Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is married and has three kids and a dog, who all put up with his incessant prattling about comic books.