Two Dead

Van Jensen and Nate Powell. Gallery 13, $19.99 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-5011-6895-6
The plot rocketing this dramatic, socially conscious crime story is fictional, but its fuel is the true tales that Jensen (Cryptocracy) dug up as a crime reporter. The graphic novel starts in 1946 with clean-cut but haunted war hero Gideon joining the Little Rock, Ark., police force. He’s tossed into a car with his opposite: Chief Bailey, a cigar-puffing volcano of an officer, whose mind is unraveling. Together, the men knock the legs out from under the sadistic Mafia psychopath running Little Rock’s seamy criminal underbelly. The standard buddy cop narrative is given fresh weight by Bailey’s delusional mania (“I am the cleansing flame”). Told in parallel is the tortured family history of African-American brothers Jacob and Esau, who are operating on either side of the law, and yet must both face the biblical fury and collateral damage of Bailey’s vendetta. Jensen further tangles the narrative with vividly depicted historical detailing, such as the militia-like black police force that operated in tandem with the white police. The noirish, harshly shadowed art from Powell recalls his work on March, with a brutal dusting of Frank Miller. The Southern gothic atmosphere and sedimentary layers of guilty consciences read like one of the (better) seasons of True Detective. This lurid, violence-spattered crime graphic novel might be made up, but the questions it raises are a real gut punch. Final color pages not seen by PW. Agent: Charlie Olsen, Inkwell (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 10/18/2019
Release date: 11/19/2019
Genre: Comics
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