Evil Geek Book Report – Indie Spotlight: Black of Heart #1 & 2

I love a good noir story. I enjoy them even more when the lead character is a hard boiled detective. I was recently introduced to the independent Assailant Comics’ series Black Of Heart by Chris Charlton and it gave me the chance have my cake and it eat it too.

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Black Of Heart follows detective Drake Harper and his partner Tom Keel as they put together the pieces of the disturbing and sadistic killer dubbed, The Vulture that’s stalking the streets of NYC. Our villain is systematically abducting young women, killing them and removing one of their eye balls before dumping them back into the streets almost to mock the police force. If that’s not bad enough, Harper’s personal life is falling apart but part of the problem as he admits to himself is that “the job never ends”. It’s a dark world they inhabit, but it’s also the real world and one that the police fight to protect its citizens against.

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In one of the best parts of the issue we witness an abduction of the innocent and see part of how the crime is actually perpetrated.  The Vulture operates a cab which he has made specifications to so when he picks his victims up he releases a gas through the interior of the car that renders them unconscious.  His method is equal parts disturbing as it is intriguing. We do get a reveal here and that the Vulture is someone close to Harper, but someone he would least suspect.

The second issue of the series gets us closer to the Vulture. As Harper and Keel are out on the town two boys witness a cab dump a body which ignites an intense chase. This issue is far more “action” oriented of the two focusing the majority of it on the detectives following the Vulture. The panel lay outs for this extended scene is gloriously cinematic. Artist David Hollenbach turns in some beautiful work not just here but throughout the entire interior of these books. His style fits the mood perfectly; it’s almost a kind of surreal realism. Primarily black and white, he chooses to colorize certain aspects or objects thereby making them stand out immensely.

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A lot of people want to write noir for a whole host of reasons but end up giving us a pale facsimile of what the genre is at its core. It’s clear to me that these guys get noir, they understand it. The mood, the themes, the style, hell even the names (and title) are pitch perfect. Detective Harper’s voice over has the laconic Robert Mitchum feel that every noir wants to emulate but rarely can. It has what makes noir good with just a little bit of horror thrown in for the Arthur Harkness’ of the world.

These issues world build and flow at a perfect pace, it never feels rushed or stilted. If you dig noir or watching the elements of a mystery come together give Black Of Heart a try. Electronic and print copies are available at the Assailant website.

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About Biff Tannen

Film Noir, Pulp, Comic Books and Hitchcock.

Posted on February 12, 2014, in COMICS!, Evil Geek Book Report, Indie Spotlight, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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