cover image The Milkman Murders

The Milkman Murders

Joe Casey, . . Dark Horse, $12.95 (104pp) ISBN 978-1-59307-080-9

Everyone recognizes the perfect housewife: thin-waisted, beautifully coifed, apron-clad, with just the right words to solve all of her family's problems. Then there's Barbara Vale: middle-aged and paunchy, hair in curlers for a husband who never notices, cooking meals that manage to turn even the milk sour. The former seems to exist only on television, while the latter is the focus of this graphic novel. Barbara clings to the advertised ideal, trying to hold her dysfunctional family together. Into her unhappy home comes a mysterious milkman who violently assaults her. Unexpectedly, this helps Barbara break free of the tyranny of her family, taking gruesome revenge for their cruelties. The real horror in this comic is not in the gore of the second half of the story but in the portrait of curdled domesticity in the first: the husband's casual violence, the disaffected children's immorality and the mother trying to make her family into the American dream. Casey and Parkhouse use pastel hues to paint the awfulness of suburban life, adding further darkness to this disturbing book. (May)