cover image Destroy All Monsters: A Reckless Book

Destroy All Monsters: A Reckless Book

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Image, $24.99 (144p) ISBN 978-1-5343-1924-0

Still up for a fight, Brubaker and Phillips’s Ethan Reckless is feeling his age in the slow-burning third entry of their Los Angeles noir series. It’s 1988, three years following Friend of the Devil, and Ethan is barely pretending to be a private investigator. But he does pick up a case, and it’s a doozie. Hired by a Black city councilmember to look into a scuzzy and rich white developer, Ethan is pleased to be sticking it to the Man. But the mystery plot ends up feeling like background as Ethan traps himself in pained nostalgia. Worried he is losing Anna—his trusty punk assistant and only friend, finally given her due in a touching origin story—Ethan loses himself in weed, old movies, and memories: “after a while, even remembering seemed pointless.” Moody washed-out art recalls the cinematic oddities that Ethan and Anna watch in their old movie house headquarters. Private-eye tropes like decadent upper-crust parties and corrupt cops abound, while sudden action scenes cut through Ethan’s hazy, guilt-ridden flashback narration, such as when he smashed a drug pusher’s face with a skateboard. It all feels less like a self-contained story than a prelude for a dark implosion heading Ethan’s way. Series fans will ride along in anticipation. (Oct.)