Action Lab: Danger Zone 2015
Written by Christopher Mills
Illustrated by Rick Burchett
If you are a fan of old school pulp noir mysteries or have never really experienced one than this is something you should definitely check out. It’s black and white in the traditional old school fashion but the interiors by Rick are really nice! His attention to detail, page/panel use and the look of each character is extremely well done and his work should be admired. It really is that darn good and honestly it just makes this experience unique and it’s perspective and impact it has on the writing goes a long way to leaving a huge impact on a reader.
We open up with our main character McCrae in his bedroom with a dead girl in his bed. Classic set up so he’ll take the fall and be a wanted man by her father, Sergio Castellari a man with mob ties and a history with McCrae. She also has a man who’s obsessed with her and wants her for himself and seems unstable enough to be the man who murdered what he couldn’t have. The only problem I have with that is he’s too stupid, sure he works for Castellari and he’s in love with his daughter and has plenty of motive but I can’t see him being smart enough to pull this off. Even with his comment to Eva’s dead body.
So we’ve got a man in McCrae who has an unknown skill set, is extremely familiar with the wrong side of the law and pissed off a little cretin and is now the prime suspect in a Mob boss's daughter’s death. Christopher really sets this up nicely with the background story that McCrae goes over, for as much our benefit as trying to figure out clues to who's responsible, giving us a great opportunity to get to know everyone. Rick’s illustrations are superb for this as well as we see Dom’s, the stalker, facial expressions and body language give us as much information on him as the writing does.
That’s true for all the characters involved including McCrae. He’s older, devilishly handsome and comfortable in his own skin and the kind of confidence he exudes well it’s easy to see why he’s the lead here. So with Dom leading a group of Castellari’s men after him how does McCrae manage to escape so he can clear himself of this mess and find the real killer? Well honestly you’ll have to read the story for that answer but suffice it to say after a great mislead things continue to heat up and get more complicated for McCrae.
This isn’t like your current whodunnit mysteries, there are no signs of high tech gadgets or electronics no this represents, so far, how things were done back in the day before we had access to such wonderful devices. Where cunning, guile and your wits were what you had to survive with and it is so dang nice to see that once again. You forget what we’ve lost in a digital age and this reminds us that sometimes your brains and actions are all you really need. Oh and maybe a Lady Luck too but that’s a different kind bonus heh.
Surprisingly simple yet complex and the very convoluted cast of characters make this a page turning read.