Page 45 Review by Stephen
Retrospect is a funny old thing, and what you have to remember is that this first appeared long before Brubaker and Larks GOTHAM CENTRAL, and indeed way before Brubaker and Phillips ultra-successful CRIMINAL enterprise. It first appeared when all we knew Ed Brubaker from was the autobiographical chronicle of youthful misdemeanours which was the COMPLETE LOWLIFE, Dark Horses ACCIDENTAL DEATH drawn by Eric Shanower and (maybe) THE FALL in collaboration with Jason Lutes, due for a colour-tinted resurrection soon.
It remains as fine as youd expect Bryan Talbot told me it was one of his favourite graphic novels of all time, and hes quite choosy, our Bryan but what may well surprise is the crispness of lines for both Lark and Phillips are better known now for their more textured, twilight styles. Glancing over the pencilled pages in the extras section it seems to me that Phillips primary concern in inking here was fidelity to the originals rather than embellishment, and thats fine they really dont need any but of note all the same.
Also in the back, Brubaker casts his mind back both to this early stage in his career quite the crossroads and the development of the book itself, originally intended as a monthly series of three stories a year originally pitched as a revival of the HOUSE OF MYSTERY title. Some of those pitched pages are reproduced, as is the short story God And Sinners which originally appeared in Vertigo Winters Edge just prior to the mini-series itself.
Anyway, heres what I wrote over a decade ago. The first sentence of the final paragraph does make me laugh now. Introduction by Bendis, about their days at Caliber.
Jack's reasonably young for a private investigator, but he has a respected, veteran crime scene photographer as an uncle and plenty of contacts in the police force, some of which he's loathe to use for personal reasons. Which is why he's less than pleased to see Sergeant Paul Raymond ("We were like family, but in all the wrong ways") who needs him to help a young woman with whom he's having an affair. Her sister is missing, but she's been advised not to involve the police; and excellent advice that turns out to be because, as the mystery unfolds, the entire family emerges as completely screwed, in more ways than two, by their involvement in a hedonistic cult which may not be as burned out as it looked.
Brubaker makes all the right moves: his protagonist is neither straight forward nor overly self-involved he has a past but one which serves to enhance the story and its effect on the investigation, rather than drive it and his conversational tone is both engaging, educational and entirely convincing on the subject of stake-outs etc.
The cast is wide and diverse and you just know that Ed hopes to write more. The extent of the connections aren't remotely apparent until towards the conclusion, whilst along the way Brubaker and Lark manage to feed the clues and reveal the secrets (including some highly effective misdirection) with perfectly judged pace and timing.