American Gothic Press 2015
Written by Steve Niles & Philip Kim
Illustrated by Piotr Kowalski
Coloured by Dennis Calero
Lettered by Marshall Dillon
This has been the biggest surprise for me personally. I have always enjoyed Steve’s stories but his collaboration with Philip here takes things to new heights. I have to admit that the whole concept of using this era to tell a legitimate monster story has been wonderful then this issue goes that extra mile and really fleshes this world out in ways that are simply amazing. Who would have thought that such a thing were possible even more that old time movie monsters could make a comeback in such an new and original way?
After the events of last issue where Hank and Buck encountered the creatures proving to both men that there’s more out there than they bargained for I thought things couldn’t get any weirder. Maybe as I get older I have learned to appreciate a lot more than I used to and seeing the war of 1918 and young Hank’s experiences in the war as a seventeen year old speaks volumes about him. This kind of characterization and development is the kind of stuff I expect and yet don’t at the same time. As the story goes forward you begin to see more and more why this segment is as important as it is and how the guys are able to weave a story with such intricacy into something that you just don’t expect.
I am a huge fan of the fact that Barrymore is a private dick of old and the way this all started out has that old school crime noir feel. It just felt like this was something unique in a throwback to days gone by. Then suddenly things happen to expand everything we know and change the direction of the story. The background information we get on Hank isn’t the only thing that’s of importance here. There’s a larger picture going on that surpases a movie company and the death’s of people associate with it. That this has been delivered in such a way where it all happens to go suddenly off what we expect is why it’s so darn good.
Piotr’s interiors here are so amazing. I love that he’s able to not only capture the time period, I miss everyone dressing to leave the house even in a ratty suit to showcase your class standing. Then the studio where the Egyptian theme just shines from a darkened page or the war itself where things happened in way that was dare I say more gentlemanly it all comes across through his work in the best possible way.
The end of the story ties everything together from what we’ve seen so far through this issue. I cannot wait to see how things play out next issue as Hank proves that there really is more to him than meets the eye. He may be an old school private dick but he’s also the hero here and he’s a much deeper person than the stereotype we’re seeing. The characterization evolution here is more than I could have hoped for and leaves me hoping these guys will be keeping this world alive and well for some time to come.