cover image PISTOLWHIP: The Yellow Menace

PISTOLWHIP: The Yellow Menace

Jason Hall, Matt Kindt, . . Top Shelf Productions, $14.95 (144pp) ISBN 978-1-891830-35-8

Pistolwhip made Time's list of top 10 comics of 2001 and garnered two Harvey Award nominations. Set in 1930s America, this sequel focuses on the duel between the Yellow Menace, who models his murders after comic books, and Jack Peril, the comic book hero determined to stop him. Simultaneously, author Roderick Loom begins giving a series of lectures associating comic books, radio shows and movies with the deterioration of contemporary society. Meanwhile, aspiring private investigator Mitch Pistolwhip, the mysterious Charlie Minks, hotel maid Isla Rose and flatfoot Ray Ford search for the links among Loom, the Yellow Menace and the origin of Jack Peril. With wisps and squiggles, Kindt opens the door to a young American city filled with Woofie Dogs, flapjacks and torch singers. As Hall's narrative shift from flashbacks to fantasy, Kindt shifts perspective, using creative angles and frames to move readers along. The two weave a tight story, interspersing "advertisements" for Jack Peril paraphernalia and "pages" of Jack Peril comics throughout the book. These layers of fiction within fiction make for a complex read that pulls readers and the characters into Jack Peril's world. The book's only downfall is the vague use of the term "yellow," which carries little weight here, but bears a racial burden historically. While Kindt and Hall capitalize on the paranoia of yesteryear with catchphrases, they allude to the threat of foreigners in a pat and safe manner that skims over the underlying bigotry. But overall, this is a showcase for the skill, grace and charm of Top Shelf's newest dynamic duo. (June)