Friday, August 04, 2006

Kane #31

Kane #31, June 2001, Dancing Elephant Press
by Paul Grist

This is going to be a quick one. Old friends in town tonight. Must karaoke.

I've read some Paul Grist before, a little Jack Staff here, a little Burglar Bill there. He's an excellent storyteller that has mastered a variety of genres, and his artwork is distinctive, expressive, and easy on the eye. At times, his inking seems a bit rushed, but since Grist is the one man band behind quite a few successful titles, I can understand the effects of crunch time. His use of heavy blacks creates a crispness to compensate for potential emptiness on the page.

This issue of Kane combines Grist's strengths, telling the tale of a fallen cop investing a superhero murder. Something tells me the genre crossover is a single-issue event, but Grist shines with his emphasis on character and hard-nosed crime noir. Consider Kane’s opening monologue: "I'm a cop. You can call me Detective Kane. My first name? Call me Detective. It's who I am. It's what I do." Nice. A superhero fanatic rides the coattails of this case, and in the end, abandons his faux "Mega Man" persona for Kane's implying a future doppelganger storyline. Or not. The wanna-be's use of the introductory monologue brings the yarn full circle with a mentally unstable, quirky cleverness.

Grist's artwork in this issue is best of his I've seen. The stark blacks and whites are ripped right out of a Sin City yarn. In fact, I wonder if Grist was doing a Miller impersonation this issue, with the thin lines used for the gang of Mega Men at the tale's confrontational climax. (The image of Marv choking another Grist character on the inside front cover reinforces this observation.) So, if I had to describe this issue even more briefly than this review, I’d throw out, "It's 'Who Killed Retro Girl' meets 'That Yellow Bastard.'" Still, with Grist's clout, it's safe to say he may be more the teacher than the student to those stories. Comics is obviously who he is. It's what he does.

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