can be used to tell all kinds of stories. To any fan of the
medium, that's really not news. You can't throw a rock at
a convention and not hit a fan arguing that comics are more
than just superheroes. Everybody must get stoned indeed.
popular writers of superhero books get pigeonholed as such,
a factor that limits the acceptance of moving outside of capes
and cowls while staying in the mainstream. Occasionally, writers
will dabble in other genres, with only hardcore fans willing
to indulge their reach. One poised to break into wider acceptance
is Judd Winick. In his relatively short career (but aren't
most, right now?), Winick has made a name for himself comfortably
writing a bunch of medium-profile superhero books.
easy to forget the chameleon that Winick is. From Real
Worlder to comic strip artist to humorist, Winick was
definitely an unknown quantity when Bob Schreck asked him
to take on Green Lantern. Sure, he showed a flair for
engaging and moving storytelling with Pedro and Me,
but that was also heavily drawn from real life. That he was
so good at superheroes took fandom by storm, and there he
has pretty much remained for the last couple of years.
he pushed at his new boundaries a little with the Vertigo
series Blood and Water, it was still about vampires
fighting a great menace to humanity - hence, it could be argued,
a spooky superhero book.
all of his work, he has been an edgy and hip writer, sometimes
relying on his facile wit to cover up weaknesses in characterization.
Write what you know.
could be the book that lifts Winick to a higher level of recognition
as a writer. Set in unfamiliar territory for his fan base,
it's an early twentieth century crime sage. A few elements
still reflect familiar Winick elements. Like Blood and
Water, it takes place in San Francisco, his adopted home
city. The protagonists, Izzy and Jacob Weiss, have what would
have been called smart mouths, as do the rest of Winick's
feels very different. The Weiss brothers have real history,
not character details to be filled in as the series progresses.
Enforcers for the San Francisco Jewish "mafia," the brothers
are caught up in a life that makes at least one of them uncomfortable.
But they're good at it, and it's all they know.
almost unfair to review this based on a single issue. Intended
as a 12-issue maxiseries, the entanglements playing out here
are only barely set in motion. Instead, Winick shades the
story with little details building the Weiss' world. Even
the dialogue, though snarky, remains true to the period.
of that detail comes from Dalrymple's art. A bit scratchy
but packed with line work reminiscent of the time period it
represents, it's easy to follow and easy to give in to the
mood. This is a story of ordinary people perhaps pushed into
dangerous lives, and Dalrymple never pushes us out of the
realm of believability.
whole, the book deals with an historical subculture not too
often given the spotlight, so you might even learn something.
The mark of good writing, however, is not so much its educational
value as your ability to identify, and Winick has accomplished
that so far.
to both the advance copy and DC's website, this book appears
under the regular DC imprint, not Vertigo. It could be a bold
move, but more, it's a healthy sign that the company is willing
to take risks and put their weight behind more experimental
books. If you're one of those who believes comics should be
about more than tights, put your money where your mouth is,
and take a look at Caper.